Office Politics: Tips and Tricks


Today we’re surrounded by debates en masse. Pundits stand before us pontificating on what they have over their opponent. Ugly slurs are thrown from one side of the room to the other. No, this isn’t about the 2016 Presidential Race. This is happening in your office with your co-workers.

To say that you don’t get involved with office politics is like saying you don’t really “get” this wearing shoes thing that the kids are doing. No matter what the environment, when several personalities gather and everyone has their own opinions and motives, there will inevitably be some some controversy. There are always those people who excel and those who out of jealousy or resentment will envy them their success. There are those people who seem to have an abundance of pet peeves and want to voice their opinions to anyone who will listen. There are bullies. There are doormats. All of these intersecting personalities breed a political hotbed of good, bad, and ugly. Everybody is involved in office politics, and prior to popular belief, there are ways to use office politics to your advantage.

First, pay attention. Listen for those hot-button topics that tend to send co-workers into a rage. Listen for the conversations that everyone is passionate about. Keep an eye on who is invited to important meetings and how often that occurs. Take notice of who seems to know more faster. More difficult is paying attention to the people who aren’t so well-included. These Titanics-in-miniature are falling behind and can sometimes be the source of petty drama. You’re not running from these people so much as noticing their strengths, weaknesses and alliances and then playing the game accordingly. If you notice a group spends a lot of time having lunch with the supervisor or works on bigger projects, find ways to get to know them better.

The next thing to consider is how to form alliances around your office. Think of it like rock climbing. You want as many stable footholds as you can find. Positioning yourself with this strategy ensures that if one alliance falls through, you’ll have several other options to rely on. Having your foot in so many doors also ensures that you are seen as a reliable and flexible person who several people are willing to work with.

It’s also important to consider that timeless mantra, also known as the Golden Rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated. Would you want others talking about you behind your back? Would you appreciate being passed over for a project or promotion based on what someone said they had seen you do? Also try to keep things in terms of win-win. Just because office politics exist, doesn’t mean someone has to always be a loser. Being the person that others can look to as a problem-solver and a fair judge will help you get ahead and avoid any negative work talk.

And unfortunately, negative talk is as commonplace as paperclips in any office. The only way to control it is to be mindful of it and avoid fanning the controversial flames. Simply standing by while a co-worker goes behind someone’s back or manipulates others is just as bad as if you were the guilty party. Speaking up is the fastest way to avoid a huge problem later.

With that strategic mindset, you want to remain goal-oriented. Keep your emotions out of your work relations as much as possible. You’ll be building bridges quickly and activities like backstabbing and manipulating burns them faster than you can reinforce them. Build strong, solid relationships with several people and you’ll really go places, so to speak.

To wrap up, office politics are cumbersome, but they are inevitable. But rather than rolling over and being another innocent bystander, using these tactics will help you navigate the worst of it and come out on top.

One Thing to Keep in Mind at Your Holiday Party

The holiday season is in full swing, and everyone from the Fortune 500 businesses to your local post office are throwing holiday parties. In a modern and educated society, it’s important to recognize that there are several diverse holidays this time of year. It’s also important to remember that not everyone celebrates any holiday in particular.

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So what’s a party planning committee to do?

Huffington Post recommends remembering to keep the party inclusive and light on any one cultural influence. One of the biggest problems with holiday parties is that they are often inundated with Christmas imagery or games like Secret Santa that alienate employees who don’t feel any connection to the Christmas holiday. But that doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy a Festivus pole. Instead, use the party as more of an opportunity to build team spirit and draw people together.

Gift exchanges can still be done, that party platter of treats and finger foods is,  of course, more than welcome! The event doesn’t have to be sterilized of everything festive: decorations are okay! You don’t have to be “PC” until it hurts. But keeping the focus off one culture when several others in the room might feel excluded will keep things enjoyable for everyone. Celebrate a successful year and share how much you’re all looking forward to the next one.

That said, there are a few things to keep in mind when you attend your company’s holiday party.


For the employees, be sure to read the invitation carefully for notes on dress codes, the time the party starts and finishes and any other unique details. It’s also important to be clear on the company’s policy regarding guests. Companies are given limited budgets for parties, so if your “plus one” turns into “plus five,” you’re creating a problem. You’ll also want to monitor how much you are drinking so that you do not embarrass yourself or your company and so that you remember having a great time!

For the employers, be very specific in your invitations. Cover all the bases so that there is no confusion later on. Set the limits on the number of drinks your guests are allowed and the number of people they may bring. Making sure everyone has a relaxing and fun time is important, but maintaining control is important, too. And finally, ensure that everyone is safe. The venue should be nice, but you should also make sure everyone has a way to get home safely whether that’s arranging for a taxi service at the end of the night or organizing a carpool and designated drivers.

Overall, it’s the season to relax, have fun and celebrate with those you work with. You see your co-workers and employees on a nearly daily basis. They are your team. They are what make your business a success. Don’t be afraid to spread the cheer and make sure that everyone is just as merry and bright as you!hparty


Fast Trak’s Recommended Read: “BOLD” by Peter Diamandis

thThere’s still time to read a couple influential books before the end of 2015 and we recommend this one with enthusiasm! “Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World” is described as a “manifesto” in manual form…no surprise, just read that title again!

The thesis of “Bold” is that even a novice in the business world can become the top dog The book is segmented into three parts like a delicious and enticing success sandwich. It opens in part one by explaining how to utilize social media, crowd-sourcing and expedited learning processes to corner a new market. The fastest growing market today is technology. It feels like every day a new watch is invented to monitor your heart rate, measure your progress, walk your dog…well, not yet, but who knows: it could be you! Inventions from 3-D printers to synthetic biology have taken off at lightning speed thanks to innovators who decided to pursue their “Eureka” ideas to full fruition.

The meaty inside of the sandwich is full of juicy tidbits and pearls of wisdom from already-successful leaders like Larry Page and Richard Benson. Part two offers insights and advice from those who have been through the trials and errors and offers a guide on how they got to where they are today. Diamandis adds his own secrets to the sauce with his own creeds and personal advice.

Topping off “Bold,” Diamandis provides examples and instructions for how to stay connected to your audience in a world where connections are ever-expanding, but attention is fleeting. Marketing techniques like incentives, crowd-sourcing, multi-media campaigns and more all convalesce into a valuable and, above all, loyal customer base.

At the core of all this, “Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World” isn’t only about radicalizing the business world. It focuses on how your future creations and subsequent success will benefit the the world in the long run. And who wouldn’t want to sit at that table?

How to Read Faces

You’re talking to a co-worker about your last successful campaign and you notice the corners of their mouth tighten and shift downward. They tilt their head and their eyebrows come together just a little. Suddenly, you realize that maybe they haven’t been doing so well. You ask if they are doing well or if they need anything and suddenly, their face relaxes and their eyes widen with interest. They tell you they’ve actually been struggling and could use some advice from someone like you.

Congratulations, you’re a face-reader.

No, not a mind-reader; a face-reader. Reading faces is a valuable skill not only in the working world but in every day life. Being able to guess what a person is thinking simply be reading the small gestures (often called micro-expressions) on a person’s face helps you navigate your way to the top of the dog pile by being more empathetic. You’re not a mind-reader, but you’re the next best thing.

There are four parts of the face to pay attention to when you are trying to read a person.

1. The eyes. Pupils dilate and become large when a person is legitimately interested in what you have to say. However, if they are angry or they think they’ve perceived something offensive, the pupils become very small and focus intently on the subject of their anger: you. If the other person’s eyes narrow or squint, they think you’re being dishonest, so it’s best to clarify what you’ve just said. And finally, eyes that can’t focus, that dart here and there signify discomfort and distraction. Get them to focus on you again and sell your point!

2. The lips. A person will purse or tighten their lips into a hard, straight line when they are on the defensive. They are frustrated or they disagree with something that’s been said. In the opposite direction, a person who puckers their lips, or bites them, in any way drawing attention to their mouth is feeling unsure or vulnerable. In this case, it’s best to be comforting and reassuring but establishing your dominance. Be the leader and do it now! A person whose lips twitch is hiding something. They might be lying and trying to hide their pleasure with themselves by suppressing a smile. Call them out.

3. The nose. The nose doesn’t move as much as the lips or eyes, but it still has a lot to say. A reddened nose indicates increased blood-flow and simply means the person is lying and unsure of what they are saying. When a person’s nose is flared, meaning the nostrils are wide, they are clearly angry or annoyed. Generally, when the nose is crinkled as if the person smells something bad, it’s because they are contemptuous and have disdain for you or what you’ve said. Time to put on the charm!

4. The eyebrows. If you’ve ever seen a silent movie, you know how much emotion we can convey just by raising or pulling together your eyebrows. High brows show fear, surprise, or interest. Eyebrows that are lowered and form several wrinkles on the forehead can either mean anger or intense concentration. And last, if you notice the eyebrows are lop-sided with one raised and one lowered, it usually indicates the person is confused or uncertain. It’s best then to assuage their fears and sound more confident.

While gestures can change with a person’s upbringing or their cultural background, facial expressions linked to emotions are universal. Disgust, surprise, fear, and love look the same in one part of the world as another. Mastering the ability to read subtle and overt facial expressions will make you a master at communication and negotiation and a valuable company asset. th

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