How to play politics – for an introvert, it becomes a difficult task to be an active player in the most imperative game of office politics. How do you overcome it, if you are the one who talks lesser than less?
Are you an introvert?
Does talking seem like a HUGE TASK to you?
At your office place the words that get you most frightened are OFFICE POLITICS?
If you are answering all these in affirmation, then let’s get to it and solve the issue for you.
We have something called POSITIVE OFFICE POLITICS for you.
Well, isn’t positive office politics an oxymoron? Especially for an introvert?
Office politics, like many things, has its positive and negative sides. We notice the negative, which is disgusting and dysfunctional. It often harms or abuses others in the process and for the rest of us; we try to avoid the fallout.
What we tend to not notice is the positive office politics that does take place, mostly because we don’t recognize it for what it is. When it works well, it makes a group that is efficient, productive and satisfied.
To sort this out, you first need to understand the definition of office politics.
Office Politics, in its simplest form, can be defined as building relationships in order to achieve some kind of end result. It’s the dynamics between people who work together that determines such things as support, engagement and advantages to the support of each person’s goals. It’s the basis of decision-making. It’s how things are done anytime you have a group of people working on something. (Which can include your neighbourhood association, social groups, nonprofits and the list goes on)
As you can see, that is a fairly neutral concept neither positive nor negative. What leans the needle in one direction or the other is the action of the players, the people involved, that is!
With that in mind, how can an introvert wage positive office politics and not lose their soul or self-respect in the process?
Now let’s get to the points for you (the introvert) to make good of it:
Form Mutually Beneficial Relationships
Let’s face it, we form relationships for selfish reasons, even if it is simply because we like the other person. It’s time for you to think more strategically. Who in the organization is in a position of influence or power? Who are the stars? These are good people to hang out with. Success rubs off. BUT, what’s in it for them? What do you bring to the party? Figure it out and then focus on that as you form these strategic relationships. Make good use of idle time and engage in meaningful conversations over coffee or a simple walk.
We hear about this, but don’t often understand it. Spend time observing your boss and their boss. Figure out what’s important. Once you do, engage them in conversations and information exchanges where their interests and your job intersect. Don’t assume upper management knows anything about what you do or how you contribute – so, tell them! Adapt their priorities and keep them updated. It’s hard to not totally love and support someone who has your back as a boss. Be subtle in your information style if at all you want to, for who you are, but do it any which ways.
Be Clear About Your Goals
You must have a career goal in mind for any of this to make sense. Otherwise, you’re just doing a job with no real “end-state”. Armed with that goal clarity, share your destination with those bosses. Strangely enough, when people don’t advocate for themselves, the assumption is that they are happier than a clam where they are. Project your aspirations to the people in the organisation who matter. Do not mingle with one and all, but prioritize your list of people you want to interact with, with regards to your objectives and ambitions.
This is where introverts really can shine. You definitely prefer to form your relationships one at a time. While you’re busy chatting up your various strategic relationships, engage them and influence their thinking towards support of your needs. Obviously, you are there to reciprocate. Reciprocity is a highly influential action and you want to plan to do it often. As you preserve your words from the rest of the situations, use them liberally where they are most needed.
Read The System
As an introvert, it’s very easy to hunker down and focus on the task at hand. It can be too easy to ignore what is going on around you with all of that focus. At the drop of a hat, someone can fall into or out of favour and you need to pay attention. There are reasons for this type of shift and you not only need to be aware of it so you can also adjust your strategy but you need to learn from it. This should inform your behaviour going forward.
It’s all about reciprocity. If you haven’t caught on by now, Office Politics is all about the relationships and what each person gets from another person – that serves their goals or agenda.
You can choose to be “above” office politics and when you do, you put your future at peril.
I suggest you try your hands at Positive Office Politics.