O'Reilly logo

Influence without Authority, Second Edition by David L. Bradford, Allan R. Cohen

Stay ahead with the world's most comprehensive technology and business learning platform.

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required

Chapter 15. Understanding And Overcoming organizational Politics

Even when you're out to get something done—not to do someone in—you have to play politics.

Michael Warshaw, "The Good Guy's (and Gal's) Guide to Office Politics," Fast Company, April 1998

Organizational politics—a dirty word, a cynical explanation of all that is disagreeable, a descriptive term, or an opportunity? Plenty of people are cynical about politics in organizations, by which they mean underhanded seeking of personal interests. That is one kind of politics, probably more aptly described as sheer nastiness. It doesn't take organizational life to find self-serving behavior.

This kind of behavior is self-oriented politics, in which the primary goal is only the benefit of the individual, with no concern for the overall organization or department. The people out for only themselves may use methods that are seen as duplicitous, such as saying opposite things about their opinions to different people, giving false compliments to curry favor, harming colleagues by innuendo, or spreading false rumors.

These kinds of distasteful behavior are certainly unpleasant and do occur. But often, more innocent behavior gets interpreted by others as self-seeking or underhanded because the motives or style of the offender aren't clear. Bad, personal motives are attributed to the person, and no one tests the motives with the person because if you already believe he or she is nasty, it feels too risky to take a chance on unnecessary interaction. ...

With Safari, you learn the way you learn best. Get unlimited access to videos, live online training, learning paths, books, interactive tutorials, and more.

Start Free Trial

No credit card required