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Managing the office bully
Feb 23, 2017

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Credit: Greystone's Guide

What our friends say.

Nobody likes it, but office politics exist. Think less “The Office” and more “Game of Thrones.” The different departments within a company might as well be different houses. Instead of the throne, office politics involve strategies people play to gain advantage at the expense of others. Pretending that office politics doesn’t exist or affects you will only turn you into a pawn in the games. Like Jon Snow, however noble the cause is to stay away from politics, eventually you’ll find yourself caught up in it. So what can we do?

To start, forget the org chart. Titles are formalities — we need to figure out who’s really running the show. Who’s opinion is well respected? Who’s work does and does not get recognized? Be like Verys in figuring out what social networks and spheres of power exist within the company. Of course, don’t fake interactions with your co-workers, but it’s useful to understand how things work behind-the-scenes. 

Being part of the in-network can help us promote the greater good: shining light on overlooked accomplishments, addressing problems, and advancing company initiatives. The more “good will” we’re able to build, the more momentum we have in the company. Soon enough, we might have our own sphere of influence. And sometimes, that sphere of influence might rub up against others with informal power. *cough* Little Finger *cough* That’s when the office drama starts.

When faced with a bully, the first thing we want to do is make sure we stay objective. Make sure we’re not out of line in any of our reactions. Eric Barker of Bakadesuyo suggests the following when dealing with bullies:
 
The contingency that most people think about with Bullies is getting a big friend to beat them up. It could happen. If you do report the situation to an authority figure, state the facts and avoid any attempt to interpret or exaggerate. Really powerful friends disappear at the slightest hint of overreaction. No matter how reasonable you sound, you may still discover that your only friends are people with no more power than you who would love it if you took care of the Bully for them. Or lawyers. Don’t waste too much time looking for big friends.

Like Tyrion Lannister, we’re better off staying cool-headed. The more we react or respond to their criticisms we fall into playing their game. Instead, ask them what they’d like you to do. 
 
When you ask [bullies] what they want you to do, they’ll have to stop and think. This may be enough to move them into the more rational part of their brains, which can only help you. If [bullies] are trying to conceal their real motivation, they’ll have to ask you for something more acceptable than what they really want.

At the end of the day, don’t make it personal. If we’re Daenarys, then our goal is to build allies through our actions, not enemies. Even if we’re stellar performers, we’ll never advance in the company if we’re hard to work with. Instead, working towards redirecting everyone’s focus to the organization’s interest will help us develop the sterling reputation of someone who can get shit done.
 
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