How to deal with office politics.

  1. #1 May 16, 2013
    Last edited: May 16, 2013
    Hi everyone,

    This is kind of a vent but the amount of office politics I am surrounded by is just insane.

    I recently started work at a new company with about 12 employees which is separated into two 'divisions' with 3 directors in charge. The good thing is that two of the directors are big 'fans' (for want of a better word) of me because I produce results and have a really good work ethic. The other director is a bit more "meh" about the whole thing like "I employ you and will only speak to you if I need to".

    All good. But there is a struggle for power in the lower ranks.

    A girl that is above me has been there for years, has terrible job performance, a hugely inflated ego, very intimidating, doesn't work well with other women and is generally just a bully. She see's it as her being a senior and me and my office partner being below her and therefore we are her PA's despite the fact that we have our own jobs to do. luckily I know the two directors always side with me because they don't like this girl but she is very close to the third director so she stays. I am not one to just take being bullied but she still tries to throw her weight around and berate me.

    The other thing is that the receptionist is incredibly sensitive. We normally get on very well (she is significantly older than me and my office partner) though last week she started being very rude to me and my office partner and I couldn't work out why. Turns out both me and my partner apparently ignored her when we walked into the office that morning and were giving her the cold shoulder all day. it is true that we didnt say hi when we walked in but it was because she was speaking to a customer at the time and i didnt think it would be polite to interrupt and say hi. Also she was offended because my office partner and I walked out to lunch the same day laughing and she took it that we were laughing at her (obviously not the case).

    I then went out on a limb to be polite even tough i didnt do anything wrong and sent the receptionist a FB message that night saying sorry there must have been a mix up and I wasn't being rude but she was with a client. The receptionist then sends me a scathing message saying that me and office partner were being rude and childish. I didn't even realise I was being either and I certainly wasn't intentionally ignoring anyone.

    Also, the receptionist has since got over the never wanting to speak to me and my office partner again thing. But then I was going out the door to an appointment today and the receptionists husband rang as I was leaving (he calls at least 10 times a day) and I hear him say down the phone "why are you speaking to that *****" and the receptionist then laugh and say "haha now why would I call anyone a *****".

    I just can't get my head around all of this. I have never worked at a place where there are so many office politics and I feel like I am always walking on eggshells.

    The whole place is a she doesn't get along with him, he doesn't get along with her, she doesn't get along with her etc etc etc. kind of place.

    Usually I would just keep my head down and be polite to everyone but even when you do that you get accused of ignoring people or people take that as you being an easy target and try to bully you.

    What the hell do I do?
  2. most of these are not really politics but more childish interactions.

    for the receptionist, you know she's sensitive about being ignored, so say hello everyday. wave if she's with someone so that she knows you acknowledge her. when you're going out for lunch or coffee ask if she wants you to pick up something for her. or get her a treat you know she'll like once in a while. ask her about her life - but don't say anything about yours.

    the other woman, just keep your head down and keep being productive. if, as you say, the other directors indeed know all about her, then there's nothing else for you to do. if she pawns off work to you, say that you have your other work to do first but if she doesn't mind waiting, you'll be more than willing to help. then follow through, but make sure you get credit for it (easy enough in a small office) which means you need to do a good job. now if you want to play offense with office politics, you can try to take over her projects... once she realizes you're doing that, she'll want to hang on to all her work.

    ps. the best way to be immune to this is to be well liked and/or well valued by everyone. so be pleasant to everyone and make good contributions at work. in other words, be a professional in the best sense of the word.
  3. The sending a FB message to your coworker seems like a red flag to me. Personally, I don't do the social media thing with coworkers. I would rather keep my personal and professional lives separate. But that's me.
  4. Problem is I always have spoken to her as I go in and out of the office and we have always been friendly (i run up to the grocery store when she needs to get something but doesn't have time etc) On this occasion I needed to get upstairs to call a client ASAP and the receptionist was speaking to another client as I came in. I thought it would be impolite to interrupt her conversation simply to say hello and I didn't have time to wait around to say this.

    I do take your advice on board though, but it just seems like I can't win no matter what I do:biggrin:
  5. Honestly I would NOT be picking up things for her and killing her with kindness. I think it makes you look like a push over. I would smile and be polite and if she is rude give her the cold shoulder. I would also never send her a FB message and immediately limit her access to your FB posts. If she is rude/curses I'd consider sending her a work email that you would appreciate her keeping her language and tone professional.
  6. As for the third director - try to keep it professional but work as much as possible for the two who like you. Ps everywhere has politics! I got on an amazing assignment after trying three different people/routes. If I would have given up after the first *****y response I wouldn't be on it!
  7. you don't have to interrupt her to say hello. just wave - it would show that you wanted to say hi but you knew she was busy.
  8. I don't mean be her gopher. but the receptionist seems to be someone who wants to be acknowledged and who becomes petty if she isn't. so a small investment of time, of showing her some kindness or interest every once in a while might do some good.
  9. Regarding the receptionist. Still try and be nice - she sounds very hyper sensitive and paranoid. If she still gives you the cold shoulder - then ignore her as there is nothing else you can do. At least you can say after that you tried your best.

    BTW - I agree with the posters who state to try and avoid adding colleagues on your Facebook - its too private. Just be careful.
  10. I worked in an environment like that many times before. It is so unprofessional and if you ask me, I would start looking elsewhere for employment just because if you ever want to move up in the career ladder, people like those, will stop you. They will either get nasty and rude or become way to over sensitive. Take it from me. I learned the hard way as I am too nice. I always say Hi to people and that is good and respectful but don't offer anyone unless its your boss a snack or coffee or etc.. For what? Just be yourself and do your job. Don't go into work to make friends. And if you do see someone getting way too disrespectful and in your face, talk to management and if you are afraid to talk to management, talk to HR.

    Good Luck!
  11. Every place I have worked at for the last 30+ years has been this way. You will never escape it unless you work entirely alone. Anywhere you have a group of people gathered even if its only 3 or 4 people you will have these dynamics. Thats just the way humans are. Look at TPF. We aren't even in the same room together and people will find reason to dislike each other and try to one up each other.
    You will never change the behavior of people around you. All you can do is be a good example and do your job. Don't worry about what others are doing around you. Don't participate in gossip. Do your job, be polite and go home.
    As for the receptionist just pull her aside and say "can we start over again? I really did not mean to hurt you at all. I think we are just having communication problems." Then maybe buy her a coffee and a cookie or something. Kindness goes a lot further than trying to figure others out because you never will figure others out.
    As was mentioned above, remember you are there to work not make friends. Friendships that develop are secondary but should never be the priority.
  12. +1. I do this all the time to people on the phone I want to acknowledge.

  13. +1 agree with the entire post, people like this have issues beyond you and they use the workplace to vent them.
  14. +1
  15. what is TPF?