Starting a new job in an office can be a great and rewarding way to jump start your career. It can also become demoralizing, lonely, and dramatic if the people around you are prone to dramatizing their lives. Many people have not quite moved on past the high school mentality, and the result is an office experience that is less than ideal.
For a newcomer to an office, it is best to avoid getting involved with intra-office politics. Staying out of it will keep you neutral and, hopefully, the other parties will leave you alone.
If you are moving to a new office that seems like more of a theater as opposed to being a place to do work, try the following:
- Bring your iPod. Listen to music while you work. This will keep you productive (as you are less prone to distractions), and has the added benefit of allowing you to listen to music that you enjoy. Most importantly, it will force people who would otherwise try to talk to you to find a different way to communicate with you. Chances are good that they will only disturb your “work” if it’s something important.
- Identify the gossipers. It won’t take you long to realize that there are usually one or two people that make life hell for everyone else. Once you’ve realized who these people are, do whatever you can to avoid them. Don’t talk to them, don’t socialize with them, and don’t go out for drinks with them. Giving them the least amount of first-hand knowledge about you limits how much they have to say.
- Get your story straight. Let everyone know from the get go that you aren’t interested in trivial details. My personal favorite is “I don’t have that kind of patience, sorry.” Being too the point and business oriented will let everyone else know that you aren’t into drama, as well as letting your superiors see you as a potential candidate for a leadership role. After all, a manager can’t be into the drama, although there are many that are.
- Have fun. Staying out of the office politics doesn’t mean that you can’t talk with your co-workers. Go out, have fun, and get to know everyone. But, when it comes time to spread rumors about something, stay out of it. If someone asks you if you know what the latest dirt is, politely reply that you have no idea.
- Don’t take it personally. Eventually, the cross hairs will settle on you and you will become the next victim of workplace drama. Don’t take it personally- everyone becomes a victim of it eventually. Rather than succumb and respond, just ignore it. When people give you funny stares or blank looks, return the favor. But, whatever you do, never try to “put an end to it”. All that accomplishes is adding more fuel to the fire.
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