You may love your job, or you may hate it. But one thing is certain, work can become unbearable if you’re dealing with office politics. While this certainly will affect an employee’s mental health, studies show that office politics can bring about a barrage of physical symptoms too.
An article by Forbes states that 77 percent of employees experience physical symptoms of stress, while 60 percent may suffer from heart trauma, and 30 percent may be subject to coronary heart disease. The statistics are certainly alarming, but it all comes down to how you identify and deal with the stress and trauma that comes from workplace politics.
From bosses, managers, to your colleagues, toxic work culture can be created by a number of people you face or have direct relationships with at work. Workplace politics is a part of growing up and will always accompany office culture. And while that may be true, it’s a good idea to be equipped with tools to combat these stressors. Actions speak louder than words, and this is a rule of thumb anyone dealing with politics needs to go by. Your boss or colleagues may claim to have the best intentions and assure that they have your best interests at heart, but may exhibit behaviour that is different from these claims.
How do we identify these behaviours, and most importantly, how do we rise to the occasion?
Bosses or managers operate under pressure instead of being driven by inspiration.
Workplaces do come with a lot of pressure, considering meeting targets and deadlines. While a certain amount of pressure is commonplace at any office, it can become demotivating when your boss or manager is operating only under pressure. Not only can this be incredibly stressful, but your work can also become robotic and more about quantity than about quality.
A good way to tackle this and ensure that this behaviour doesn’t set you up to fail, is to seek support elsewhere in your workplace. You can make friends or brainstorm ideas with coworkers. More importantly, keep in mind that you can spark inspiration outside of this immediate environment, as well.
There is a display of aggressive behaviour and selective communication.
It is never fun when anyone at work acts aggressively towards you. It is important to note that aggressive behaviour doesn’t necessarily have to be outright, it can be passive as well. Your boss or manager may be withholding compliments or failing to give credit when you’ve earned them, there may be a display of paranoia or vindictiveness towards you that stems from insecurity, or there may be a severe lack of communication altogether.
When this happens, it’s important to assert yourself and communicate your discomfort transparently with your boss or coworker. More importantly, don’t let their behaviour change yours. You can continue to be kind, but be assertive and professional. It is essential that you do not, under any circumstances, become aggressive as well since that can undermine your position.
They avoid confrontation in difficult situations.
Let’s say you do try to communicate transparently with your boss or coworker about their behaviour, and instead of acknowledging your sentiments, they avoid the situation altogether. A lot of the times, insecure bosses, managers, or coworkers may gaslight you and make it seem like you were overreacting.
In these circumstances, it is important for you to not dismiss your feelings, but also learn to pick your battles. This is also a good opportunity for you to learn what not to do as a leader. After all, dealing with difficult people is an essential part of learning how to lead. One day, when you’re in this position, you will know to be better.
There are no signs of sharing expertise or learning opportunities
When you’re a young employee, workplaces can be incredibly exciting. You may be doing what you’re passionate about or you’re learning new skills. Either way, you’re like a sponge – soaking up all that your company and your coworkers have to offer. It can be incredibly demotivating when your boss or your manager refuses to share their expertise and provide extra learning opportunities.
Such bosses can also exert excessive control and micromanage your work. It’s important to not let this crush your spirit. Navigating through workplaces can be tricky, but there is always a learning opportunity at every turn. While it may not be what you were expecting to learn, learning how to deal with different kinds of people is incredibly helpful in the long run.
Gossip all around
Unfortunately, gossip is a part of workplace culture. Chances are that you will get dragged into office gossip, irrespective of whether you’ve contributed to it. Gossip can disrupt your workflow, especially if you learn that your boss or manager is engaging in gossip about you.
If clearing the air and maintaining an honest communication channel is ineffective, remember to pay little heed and ensure your hard work reflects in the company you are working for. Most importantly, do not sink to their level. The way you react to adversity will always be an aspect that defines you as an employee. At the end of the day, you cannot control the people around you, but you can control the way you react and ensure you have a healthy outlet for your stressors. Whether you go to therapy, have quality time to yourself, or enjoy moments with your family and friends, it is important to ensure that you have a life outside of work too.