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Tips on keeping a safe distance from office politics

Tips on keeping a safe distance from office politicsImage Credit: Supplied

People sometimes find it hard to separate between how to be politically correct in the office without falling into its politics. These situations often emerge when there are conflicts and people get divided into camps.

Having to tell someone who just happened to agree with you on where you stand on the conflict that this agreement doesn't mean that you have to engage in extended gossip can be difficult. But in many cases, that is how office politics escalate, and before you know you will have allies — and enemies — you didn't plan on having.

What you should consider when there are conflicts in the office are the following:

Open discussions

Off-the-record discussions are almost never secret. If you have been in any office environment, you may have learnt this the hard way. Even people you trust most may intentionally or unintentionally bring up your point of view on a topic if it serves their cause or if your relationship with them changes.

With that in mind, avoid after-hours meetings, phone calls, chats, etc. Try, instead, to make it clear that what you say to any person involved is what you mean and what you are willing to back up when needed.

Control your emotions

Many slips are made when we are angry or feeling strongly about one thing or another. If you are engaged in a heated discussion with someone you agree with or not, make sure to keep your cool. The more you are able to control your thoughts and say less, the better.

Don't go ranting about whatever happened around the office either. Many people could take your words to twist them around, fill gaps and communicate them with a different message. All of this only complicate matters, and can never be conducive to solving office problems.

Draw the line

Know when to stop a conversation or refuse to answer a question. Typically, people won't begin with asking you the most difficult or confidential questions, the discussion develops gradually. So be conscious of what you're saying and where the conversation is going.

If you are confronted with a question that you don't think appropriate or will force you to divulge confidential information, be clear that you don't want to comment on this. Sometimes if you're not comfortable with saying ''No'', you may find it easier to manoeuvre the question, which is fine as long as you ensure you stay in charge of the conversation.


Office conflicts and problems can be sorted out without investing too much time and emotions. In fact, many well-established companies have clear channels for problem resolution, so if you go through these channels, you may not have to have any additional discussions.

Not too exciting, right? But although you may be tempted to vent and share your feelings, think of the purpose of this activity. It probably won't solve a problem and could in itself create new issues and hard feelings.

With that in mind, and if your goal is to move forward, try to control any exchanges that may only lead to more problems.

Written rants

You take office conflicts when you begin to create a paper trail of your emotions. Whatever you put in writing — on office email, social media site or instant chat — can easily become part of the record if things deteriorate, and online accounts are pulled in for documentation. So think twice about what you type, because even if you trust the recipient, your exchange is the property of the company.

Even if things don't go so far, think about how many times emails are sent or forwarded to the wrong person. If you're not willing to back your claims, don't utter them verbally or in writing. In many cases, these rants involve opinions of many people and personal attacks, as well, which can be damaging to your relationships even with those who are your allies.

Learn how to live life with integrity and purpose

Source: Rania Oteify, Special to