Monday, February 8, 2010

Office Politickin'

It's been two weeks already at the new job. What a whirlwind!

Yet again, it seems that the most challenging part of this new assignment won't be the work at all, but negotiating the office politics. A dozen different personalities, a dozen separate egos, a dozen diverse, personal agendas to navigate around. Ah, but it keeps life interesting.

Because of hard lessons learned at my last two jobs, I made a decision weeks ago, before I even started in this new position, to keep a strong boundary wall up between myself and my new co-workers. I'm pretty determined to keep my inner life and my work life completely separate.

At my last job, I quickly made friends with a woman who was a few years my junior and seemed to be in about the same place in life as me. We had a lot in common and I quickly became fond of her. All too soon, I found out that she had betrayed my confidences and used me as a pawn to further her own agenda with others in the company. I vowed that the next time I had a fresh start, I would do things differently, and so here I am.

I am usually an open book. I try very hard to be "authentic"; what you see is pretty much what you get with me. I detest gossip and I don't engage in it, or repeat it if I hear it. I am generally very real and I try to say just what is on my mind, although I tend to err on the side of kindness and discretion.

But now I find myself choosing my words carefully and guarding my facial expressions so as not to completely give myself away. I'm willing to pass up new friendships in the interest of protecting myself and keeping my work life on an even and predictable keel. I am being careful not to share much about my personal life. I am trying to keep my opinions to myself,and maintain neutrality in arguments that may arise from day to day, keeping everything very much on the surface. I think that in the long run, it will prove to be the best policy.

My goal is to be able to stay above the fray, for better or worse, unaffected by the tide of feelings that, for me, always accompanies office politics. Although this means that I probably won't have deep, meaningful friendships at my new workplace, sadly, I guess it is just the price one has to pay to keep the work life sane.


  1. Your son's freind, MikeFebruary 8, 2010 at 11:30 PM

    Y'know, I agree with you. Unfortunately, it's one of the things that in such an environment, that I think has to happen in order to stay professional. There are people like the one that you described from the past job, sadly, that can be hurtful on both a personal and a professional level, both.

    It's extremely admirable to wish to have a natural, and personal repoire with your fellow worker, definitely. But it can always come at a sad price when that person does not feel the same, or is in fact a "politic player" in a social situation involving a sort of hierarchy, either understated or implied.

    I sometimes, too find it disappointing in social situations as well, when I want to become personable and like the proverbial "open book" but consistently realize that I instead should keep a careful, self-protective shell on some level, while still maintaining a friendly and honest visage.

    It's a hard juggling act, and sometimes quite difficult to keep up with, but in the end, I agree completely with you. Any such social situation is a balancing act, of both ethics from column A and column B.

    But I think that as long as you always maintain the elements that make you a very intelligent, insightful, hard-working and naturally good person, it is the important thing that people will see, and will still earn you the respect of those around you on every level. :)

  2. Glad it's going well! I, too, would go with the "Friends" At Work Force Field-- something like the Robinsons had surrounding their spaceship home on Lost In Space might do the trick! Just funning you-- I DO think it's wise to be cautious.

  3. Like you Deedee, I'm very quick to trust people and, consequently, have got hurt many times. For me, the big wide world can be a bewildering place and I don't seem to be able to handle things any better with age! :O) You've only been in your new appointment for a couple of weeks so you're right to be cautious as it's early days yet. In time I'm sure you will get to know everyone's personality more and come to know who you can trust and, hopefully, give your friendship to.

    Keep nice and warm on Wednesday! :)

  4. It is so so so sad that in this world when there are so many really serious things happenning that people feel the need to indulge in the pettiness of office squabling. Don't get me wrong. I am a realist and have lived through all that. But the older I get the more futile it all seems.

    I wish for you a happy heart.

    Kia kaha - in Maori, Be strong.

  5. What I like best about your approach, is that you give yourself an option. You can always make an exception in the future, but you won't have to undo anything because of keeping up a fence: Good walls make good neighbors? Until you want to build a gate... if you want to.

  6. Hi DeeDee! It's so darn hard when you're an open person to feel you need to keep to yourself for protection. I don't blame you though. Hopefully, in time, things may ease up. Just keep smiling - it drives people crazy wondering why the hell you're so happy all the time! :)

  7. Friendship comes by being present to others and ourselves. That's the authentic part. But we don't have to wear our heart on our sleeve. I don't have to "need" so quickly.
    The betrayal you experienced is ugly..that person is unaware of spirituality, and you are not..
    For me, humor shapes my persona..who'd have thought so?? I kid around, I get's just a different way of telling the truth. Leave 'em laughing!! Good luck!!!

  8. Deedee, it was so nice to see your comment on one of my recent posts. I have not been around for a while. for some reaso I am finding it hard to keep up with all the things in my life this winter! I make a mental plan in my mind for each day, but only seem to manage half of it. Blogging is one of the things that seems to get pushed to the side. Well, excuses aside :-) I was reading thru your last posts and I am so sorry to hear that you have been having such a horrible winter! No wonder you are finding it hard to stay positive. As for the office politics, it is something that I too had to learn the hard way. I was always an open book too, and talked with many of our customers on a friendly basis, until I learned that the very things I had been saying were being spread around and used against me. Lesson learned! I smile on the outside, but rarely open up anymore. Isn't it a shame that life must be this way. I find it sad. But I do love your attitude and it will stand you in good stead. Stay happy, my friend. ~~ Debby

  9. You're very wise. Never trust anyone in the workplace. I have been betrayed by people I thought were friends, and I have witnesses people betrayed each other, and stabbing each other in the back. I witnessed it just this week.

    The best thing you can do in the workplace is to smile, smile, smile -- but keep your distance. Everyone will think you're really nice (which you are...!) but you will stay out of the fray. Keep your personal life to yourself, and just do a good job. You'll be fine.

    Good luck with your new job. :-)