An unusual thing happened at the end of my CFO assignment in India.
As my successor came in, the operations team arranged for the finance team to change floors. Oddly, I was not told. There was some hint of it and I thought no way would no one tell me.
It happened. The entire team was moved in what felt like a blink. I could hardly believe it and then proceeded to do something I’m not super proud of.
I called my driver to pull around and get me even though it was the middle of the day. Then, I went into the parking garage and started crying and crying and crying.
It was a horrible feeling and I didn’t know what else to do. Crying had become my coping mechanism.
The thing is that office politics happen everywhere.
You aren’t alone.
When you can accept the reality of office politics, these situations can be peaceful, enlightening, and empowering. You may even end up feeling grateful for them.
Why you might say?
Because these opportunities give us the ability to train to be more than resilient and what some may call anti-fragile. Meaning rather than just recovering quickly, you make your positive mindsets stronger.
If you can’t positively handle office politics, what’s going to happen when you get a call that a loved one is sick or a family member has died.
Without ever training in adverse situations, how will you handle the ones like these that will definitely come your way? What will a disturbed mind do for the other person vs. a peaceful one?
We’d love to control everything but we can’t. Uncertainty is 100% certain. A single phone call has the possibility to turn our worlds upside down. So practicing an empowering strategy with office politics positively impacts other areas of your life.
You’ve got options when office politics arise don’t you.
Some might like to find a place where no office politics exist, resist when they occur, complain and feel bad, or simply blame themselves for what’s happening. Others do something about it or even appreciate the opportunity to practice compassion and patience.
Here’s a process you can follow if you choose to be more patient and accepting when office politics arise.
Transform Office Politics into Opportunities
1. Name the experiences that arise
Start noticing in what ways you experience office politics. Is it in how projects get staffed, who gets certain leadership roles, the attitude/ambitions of those in senior roles, who’s agenda is getting pushed forward?
List them out as they arise or as you remember them. Ask yourself when you feel your buttons getting pushed and unpleasant feelings arising. Pay close attention to what’s happening and see the recurring patterns.
2. Notice how you experience office politics
Get super clear on how you experience them mentally, emotionally, and physically. Ask yourself some questions to increase your awareness.
What kind of feelings arise inside? How does your body react? Is there tension in your shoulders or maybe you clench your jaw? What mindset takes over? How’s your tone of voice? Do you go into a thinking or an emotional mode?
3. Create a constructive office politics mindset
Your mindset is flexible and open for design any time. When office politics arise, how would you like your higher self to respond to these situations? Perhaps, a mindset mixed with leadership, compassion, understanding, wisdom, and joy. Or, a mindset infused with curiosity, teamwork, mercy, and inspiration.
The default doesn’t have to be a mind of frustration and disappointment. With mindfulness, you can overthrow it.
4. Imagine future scenarios
You’ve identified the situations that occur. Now consider what might occur going forward. Where are you likely to encounter a level of office politics? Could it be tomorrow morning at a leadership meeting, a meet-up with a peer, part of a group outing, negotiating with different practice teams?
Do your best to identify three different future scenarios.
5. Mentally rehearse
Imagine yourself walking into those future scenarios with the mindset you really want. Consider how she would respond to the conversations going on. Rehearse it in your mind over and over.
Where would your sense of leadership take you? When you feel curious rather than making assumptions, what do you learn and new opportunities arise? As a wave of compassion washes through you, do you still see others in the same light or realize “oh, they suffer just like me”? How does it feel to manage your energy and emotions and perhaps even thrive?
I realize this is a process and maybe you don’t go one day from terribly upset about office politics to feeling at peace and a sense of joy. It’s possible though with practice.
So empowering isn’t it.
Because at the end of the day, is it really about all the work stuff in front of you getting done, being promoted, achieving something, or is it about being a compassionate, accepting, wise human being.
If you feel like you’re ready to move beyond the office politics, start putting this method into play. It’ll amp up your patience and you will become anti-fragile.
As a small tip, it helps to start small and in advance of a big event. Take baby steps and be proactive.
If you can, imagine a snapshot of the leader you wish to be in these situations and frame it (almost like a Polaroid picture).
I’d love if you shared what you see. Super inspiring.