Every office is political.

For years, I naively thought I worked at a place that wasn’t. I saw our office as more or less fair, more or less healthy, and highly inclusive—perhaps overly so—in decision making. People competed with themselves, I’d proudly tell prospective recruits, not with one another. And I meant it.

All those good things I believed? They were true—but only to a point, I realize with hindsight. We competed with ourselves, but also with one another. Our bosses had favorites, and we noticed. We grumbled about promotions that didn’t seem deserved, assignments that didn’t seem fair. People subtly found ways to elbow one another out of pole position for C-suite attention. Our office was political. Of course it was.

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