Stop calling it “Office Politics” and deal with the behavior

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As I coach leaders, many share the challenges of office “politics.” It’s a challenge across companies and levels. However, calling the actions of players “politics” ignores the real issues. It creates a mass unknown hovering above you that you have no influence over. It makes your brain go into fight, flight, or freeze pattern because your brain interprets this situation as something that is risky, dirty, and out of your control. The result is you feel defeated and burdened. It gives you a reason to check out and withdraw.

To improve the situation, be more accurate. By accurately describing the actual behaviors of individuals you get your brain focused on issues that you can address. You focus on what needs to be addressed, challenged, and influenced so you can create a path for action.

It is people’s jobs to influence at work. However, if they are behaving poorly in doing that then address the issue. Don’t just label in “political.” And if you personally need to gain more influence, figure out the steps and work on them.

Summary: Be more accurate. Instead of calling it “politics,” describe the behavior. Then do something do address the behavior.

About the Author
Dave Jennings accelerates meaningful change. He has worked with leaders from 20 of the Fortune 500 and spoken in 23 countries. His articles and commentary have been featured in The Washington Post, Forbes, and He is author of Catapulted: How Great Leaders Succeed Beyond their Experience. Contact Dave at