Change Your Story to Excel in Office Politics

This is the sixth post in a series where Women of HR writers share their thoughts and reactions to a manifesto, Six Rules Women Must Break In Order to Succeed.


Do I agree with the authors of  The Six Rules Women Must Break in Order to Succeed who believe,

In order to succeed at the highest levels in business, we need to rethink the conversations we are having in our heads and tell ourselves a new story. Women must think differently?


The stories we tell ourselves are powerful. When we believe certain thoughts, we always find evidence to prove our beliefs. For example, if I believe “to get ahead in my company you have to suck up and be just like the CEO,” I can find lots of examples of people who have gotten ahead that way. And then I tend to ignore all the other evidence and examples of people who are succeeding in their own way.

Part of the problem is that we want to ignore reality. Every place has politics. You see it in your place of worship, your kid’s schools and even in your Homeowner’s Association. Arguing with this reality directly violates Rule #4 – Be Politically Savvy. Women are quick to write off ‘office politics’ as an old-boys networking game and one they aren’t interested in playing. But the truth is, office politics is an area where women can excel and use their natural talents to their advantage.

Office politics is all about relationships, networks and communication. Those of us who are reality TV fans have watched how alliances often make it or break it on Survivor. The same is true in the office.

Instead of believing the thought “Office politics are manipulative,” think of some ways you can turn it around and come up with some beliefs you can support:

  • Developing relationships with key people in my office is smart and efficient
  • It’s helpful to let my boss know when I’ve succeeded
  • Aligning myself with people who are interested in my success gives them the opportunity to help others

When you believe these stories, you’ll start finding evidence to prove them true. The mentor you want and need may suddenly appear, and now you’re poised to ask them to help you. Your powers of observation and intuition can operate on full alert at the office –  without making you feel icky.

You can be authentic and sincere and succeed at office politics. Office politics won’t go away just because you ignore them. Just change the name of the game so you can win – or at least have more fun trying!

Photo credit iStockphoto

About the Author

Andrea Ballard

For 15+ years, Andrea Ballard, SPHR, has brought a unique, common sense perspective to the business of HR. A former HR Director and Training Manager, she advises companies on how to design/implement flexible work life programs to attract/retain top talent. A certified coach, she helps women create a balance between motherhood & career. She is the owner of Expecting Change, LLC, blogs at Working Mother and is on Twitter as @andreaballard.

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