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5 minute read

How to Thrive in Office Politics and Unspoken Workplace Norms

Learning to behave appropriately in the workplace and deal with office politics is critical to surviving the corporate world. Many of us spend more than eight hours a day in the workplace. Thus, we must make the most out of this time.

Whether you’re a new or experienced corporate employee, you need to deal with office politics and learn how to better navigate yourself in the corporate world.

Referencing the book Memoir of an Office Secretary by Chinese author Xiang Yu De Shi Tou, we get insights into recommended office behaviours and learn how to thrive in office politics and unspoken workplace norms.

The ability to “read the room” allows you to pick up on cues and act swiftly.

The ability to “read the room” refers to the skill of reading emotions and being attentive and polite. However, in an office setting, the definition of such ability broadens, emphasising observance and improvisation skills.

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For example, when the boss or project leader examines a contract but pauses after signing it, someone who can “read the room” would understand the reason for the pause and gently remind the leader of the date. The person already understands what the leader needs before they even say it. 

To elaborate, a person who can “read the room” will notice things others may miss. It will also help prepare them for any situation. They will know what to do and how to react appropriately based on their manager’s specific emotions or actions. This increases job efficiency, giving their manager the impression that they are alert and essential to support them in their roles.

Deal with criticism by turning it into something beneficial.

In the workplace, criticism is unavoidable; mistakes will inevitably occur. Since criticism cannot be ignored, the best way to deal with it is to learn how to handle it correctly and turn it into something constructive.

Don’t take criticism personally. Workplace feedback is often directed at your work rather than at you as a person. While it is natural to become defensive when confronted with criticism, how you respond matters. A calm and measured response can indicate your maturity and professionalism, so keep your reaction under control. 

Criticism should be viewed as a learning opportunity and a chance to strengthen your relationship with your manager. Turning criticisms into learning opportunities can change your boss’s opinion of you and help you better understand their point of view.

Communicate proactively with your manager.

Building a strong bond with your manager is one of the most crucial aspects of starting your career. Communication is an essential component of every healthy interpersonal interaction.

When a piece of work is delegated to you, take the initiative to inform the manager of your progress by providing timely and regular updates. When you complete the task, keep them updated before you move on to the next task. Doing so strengthens collaboration and provides greater assurance to your manager that the work is progressing well and on the right track.  It also allows them to intervene and provide timely guidance. It fosters better understanding and helps develop a positive working relationship.

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Learning to say “no” at times is important

There may be times at work when you feel compelled to reject your co-workers but fail to do so. Saying “no” can feel confrontational, as if you’re rejecting the individual, and most people don’t want to be the aggressor. It may also elicit feelings of guilt or make you feel useless or insensitive. As a result, many people often avoid conflict and conform to the wishes of others.

However, there will be times when you need to say no. In such instances, there are three rules to follow:

  1. Say “no” directly. Don’t beat about the bush or provide weak excuses. Being evasive will make the other person feel frustrated. It’s also unfair to them because they need time to make the necessary plans or adjustments to a project, and your vague response could be misinterpreted.
  2. Be firm but respectful. People are more likely to accept rejection if spoken in a kind but affirmative tone. They will also know that this is final, and you will not change your mind.
  3. Finally, offer an alternative. Refusing someone’s request does not mean you cannot assist them. Let them know that you are still willing to help but need to do so on your terms.

Read More: Professional Burnout is Real. Here’s How Employers and Workers Can Navigate

Practising good mobile phone etiquette is critical.

Mobile phones have become a necessity in today’s world. They often supplement face-to-face interactions. As such, it is critical to learn about mobile phone etiquette.

Mobile phone etiquette refers to how you conduct yourself when you use your mobile phone. Ignoring calls, not returning missed calls, texting during meetings, and forgetting to turn off the ringtone during meetings are all examples of poor mobile phone usage behaviour. 

When texting, use proper and professional language and avoid the frivolous use of emojis. One should also learn how to use punctuation sensitively. Punctuation does more than break up sentences; it also helps to convey emotions. A full stop, for example, may express a cold and detached feeling, but an exclamation mark or smiley face brings positivity and friendliness to the other party. Replying with a simple “ok” or “k” may convey an annoyed or nonchalant sentiment.

Learning how to communicate politely via the mobile phone is both an art and a science, and it takes a certain degree of sensitivity and diplomacy to get it right. Practising good mobile phone etiquette at work will help to strengthen your reputation as a polite, responsive, friendly, and approachable co-worker.

Make the most of our working hours by being efficient and cultivating good relationships

Learning how to behave appropriately in the workplace and deal with office politics is critical to surviving in the corporate world. Many of us spend more than eight hours a day in the workplace. Thus, we must make the most out of this time. 

Utilise your time at work properly to fulfil your duties and build meaningful relationships. The people you meet at work and the relationships you form may be the most rewarding aspects of your job yet. By doing so, you will feel happy and satisfied at work.

This article is co-created by NexPage, a translated book summary app, and Workipedia by MyCareersFuture.

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