• Office politics are a reality of work- life and practicing “good politics’’ can enable you to further your career without compromising your personal and company values.

The year was 2012 and I was at my first “real job” after interning at university. I was bright-eyed and full of optimism knowing that I had left the messy politics of high school drama in the dust, but I was in for a rude awakening. I soon came to realize that while I may have been ready to leave the politics behind me, the dust had not settled, and “the politics” was still in my midst.

I believe that office politics are a reality of work- life and practicing “good politics’’ can enable you to further your career without compromising your personal and company values. Furthermore, office politics can determine who has power and influence, and avoiding them altogether may result in you forfeiting your own influence and allowing coworkers with less experience or skill to influence decisions that directly affect you and your team.

Some rules such as avoiding gossiping and taking the high road whenever possible go without saying but here are four more rules for practicing “good” politics:

Do not outshine your boss

Do not attempt to outperform or defeat your boss, any such gesture will result in a loss for you.

In Robert Greene’s book The 48 Laws of Power, Law 1 states that you should “never outshine the master.” If you do so you may inspire fear or insecurity in your manager, as a result, these emotions can cause one to behave irrationally and negatively. The last thing you want is for the irrational or negative energy to be focused on you since this may hinder your chances of advancing within the workplace. Instead, focus your attention on ways to create win-win scenarios.

Be intentional about your work circle: Not everyone is blessed to have genuine work besties at the office. There are certain coworkers who have ulterior motives and may choose to befriend you based on their own personal gain. Some coworkers may have a reputation for being gossipers that they live up to, and other employees may be slackers and tend to be inefficient at completing their tasks. Be wary of coworkers who appear to be over-friendly and pry into your personal life, often they are seeking information that they may use as ammunition later. As a general rule of thumb, I like to think that if someone is constantly gossiping about others behind their back they are also gossiping about me behind mine. Also be aware that if you’re known to socialize with colleagues who don’t complete work efficiently, their inefficiency may likely reflect poorly upon you. Aim to be intentional about who you socialize with at work.

Communicate with your higher-ups directly

 If you would like to advance to a certain position, do not tell your coworkers, instead approach your manager directly and tell them that you are interested in a certain position and ask what it would take to get to that position or level. Oftentimes bosses and managers are very busy managing large groups of people and attending to their duties, they are looking for employees who will be problem solvers and lighten their load. Be direct and let your boss know what your goal is within the company, it’s very likely that once they are aware of your goal they will offer you tips and assign you to tasks where you can prove yourself.

Don’t overshare

Keep your personal life close to the vest, in other words, it might be best if your coworkers know enough about you to be able to carry on a friendly conversation, but not too much information that could hinder your advancement. A good rule of thumb is to imagine that what you say to one coworker the whole office will know about. Socializing outside of work may help you advance your career in some cases but having one drink too many may lead to oversharing.