When it comes to office politics, most of us would rather steer clear. After all, who wants to spend their days wondering what people think, trying to manipulate people into doing things and conniving in general, right? Of course, not all office politics are all bad. Sometimes being involved in the office political scene is crucial to advancing your career. One way or another, office politics will affect you. So you need to be sure you never break the cardinal rule of office politics because it can land you in serious trouble.
Most people think that the driving force behind office politics is gossip. And in some offices, it may feel like it is. However, the real politics are not what people are saying about each other, but rather what those things lead to. For example, if everyone thinks that "Jim" is a lazy slacker who cannot be trusted, then he may be less likely to get a promotion if he is going up against "John," who everyone knows never misses a deadline. This may be the case even if it is gossip and reputation that have forged these personas for the two men, and in reality John is a slacker and Jim is always on time. In order to combat a negative situation like this one, you may have to suck it up and get involved.
When you dive into the fray, you may be tempted to air all of those opinions that you have been judiciously holding back since you resolved to stay out of the office political game. However, that is the one thing you must not do. Being involved in office politics is as much about what you do not say as it is about what you do say. This means that you need to appear confident and positive at all times. This helps you exude an air of productivity and will make people want to be around you and work with you. That will be immeasurably helpful to you as you seek to advance professionally.
Indeed, watching what you say - and keeping it positive - will pay off in many ways. Do not say bad things about people however tempting it may become. Not because it's unpleasant (though it is) but because it's a bad idea. You start talking about one person, and suddenly your audience knows that you might talk about them too. So "keep your nose clean," as it were and do not indulge in office gossip and badmouthing. Your professional career will thank you!