Debt Reduction

Avoiding office politics

OK – I know this is a “debt reduction” blog. But for me, a big facet of my debt reduction journey has been my employment. If I don’t work, I don’t have money to pay my debt, ergo – work is a big deal to me. As I’ve said before, I work a full-time job in the finance industry and my part-time “hobby” is schlepping weekends at the cab company as a phone operator.

I’m trolling various websites this morning as part of my Sunday morning reading routine at the cab company. (It’s Sunday morning and I’ve seen the first part of the church crowd through, it won’t pick up again until the next service empties out and people call cabs to bring them home or to brunch.) I found this article at the New York Times giving people a primer on how to navigate office politics.

As you can imagine, I’m virtually untouched by office politics at my part-time job. I’m only here 16 hours a week and they are usually spent with my dispatcher Bill, who is now currently engrossed in watching videos of the JFK assassination on the Internet and outlining for me his conspiracy theories (I told you it’s slow on Sunday mornings). Because of our mutual love for old country music, pastries and the TV show “The Shield,” our conversations don’t stray to work very much, unless we’re grousing about some customer who has cussed us out or a whiny driver.

Of course, my full-time job is a different matter. I think it goes without saying that if you spend 40 hours or more in an environment, you develop relationships with the people you work with and even if you have the best of intentions, you seem to get snarled in that lovely world of office politics.

I really hate office politics. I like knowing what’s going on around me, but at the same time – I hate knowing too much information and I prefer to think of myself as a canoe sailing along a stream of chaos – floating above the fray. But as this article points out, sometimes office politics aren’t a bad thing – it’s good to know how people operate (i.e. – my boss likes my desk neat and tidy; stay away from so-and-so if he does not return your greeting in the morning). The article also tells a person to follow their intuition – that’s a piece of advice that I think is absolutely stellar.

I’ve learned a couple things over the years when it comes to office politics and just work in general:
1) Always be honorable. No one likes a brown-noser and no one likes a backstabber. Even if you think you’re being sneaky, people just know.
2) If you feel like you’re caught in the middle – you are. Find a way to extricate yourself from the situation or else you might find yourself holding the bag.
3) Sometimes it’s just better to keep your head down and your mouth shut. Especially if you feel the urge to pipe up during a situation that doesn’t concern you.
4) According to my friend M, the world is separated into two groups: Troopers and whiners. How do you want people to see you? (I think I have people fooled that I’m a trooper – secretly, I’m a whiner. Just ask Future Husband.)
5) Learn how to keep and maintain a poker face. When I was a rookie reporter, I used to cover a cops and courts beat. And I swear, the cops in that town had a hazing ritual for the new reporters assigned to their precinct. I’d be sitting in the lobby waiting to read that day’s incident reports and some detective would walk by and start talking about a shooting reported or some stabbing. Nine times out of 10 they were full of crap and were just seeing if I would react. Yes, I had just fallen off of the turnip truck, but they didn’t have to know that. I like to think that the cops I knew later respected me (as much as they respect any member of the media) because they knew that I was capable of restraint and could keep the cards close to my vest.
6) At the end of the day, it’s just a job. Do it well, do it honorably, but at the end of the day go home. Love your partner, love your pet, love whatever it is that separates you from your 9-5 self. You need that break to successfully recharge for whatever the next day is going to throw at you.

Well then – if you all follow this advice, there will be a bunch of strange cynics running around the working world, but … it could be worse. I hope all of you have a wonderful work week. Talk to you all tomorrow.

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2 thoughts on “Avoiding office politics

  1. Ugh, office politics were my biggest weakness back in the day. I’m self-employed now, and while a solitary work environment has its downside, I can handle the solitude way better than bosses and co-workers with hidden agendas. I actually fear returning to a “normal job”, and am currently trying to figure out what my next professional incarnation will be. I’m a massage therapist, and there will come a point when my body can’t keep up. I’ve had lawyers tell me I should be a lawyer – does that mean I was doing a good job or a bad one at hiding my intelligence (I actually have a master’s degree in linguistics)? Heh 😉

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