Fresh Look – It doesn’t require paranoia to have enemies

Enemies are people who hate us personally and want to undermine our efforts.[1] They are typically seen as sources of threats, and this perception creates intense negative emotions[2] Much has been made of the personalities of those who are likely…

Fresh Look – Spatial politics

Some spaces and regions signify power. Spacious offices connote authority.[1] The head of the table is expected to be occupied by the leader, and others defer that spot to powerful members of the group.[2] These subtle power markers are important…

The politics of diversity-valuing acts

White privilege, affirmative action, reverse discrimination, sexism, homophobia and of course racism are all emotionally laden terms that refer to the unjust treatment of people because of their racial or sexual identity. On the one hand, public policy requires equitable…

Gifts and favors that promise political payback

“You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” is one of the most enduring and accurate theorems in office politics. Doing favors is also a vibrant influence strategy. Yet, people who give gifts and favors with strings often get it wrong.[1]…

Political judo on powerful adversaries

Power creates tendencies that the politically adroit can capitalize on. Specifically, powerful people have a strong tendency to be decisive.[1] This makes them prone to fast decision making, impetuous action, and quick assessments based on gut feelings.[2] They tend to…

When employees feel insecure

Insecurity breeds employee withdrawal. Unless they feel supported by others, their performance plummets and they are likely to become problem employees.[1] Although some may attempt to perform their way out of their predicament, many turn to politics. Specifically, they attempt…

Sizing up others requires brains, not guts.

Common sense tells us that gut-feel is important in office politics. If someone “seems” politically dangerous or potentially supportive, some of us act on these intuitions. A new study indicates that when it comes to accurately understanding others, we should…

The politics of winning an award

I won many teaching awards during my academic career, and my reaction was always ambivalent. In fact, the awards created political problems for me. While winning awards can’t help but leave one feeling pleased, it makes one the source of…

dissolution of workplace friendships

Friends at work can be tremendous sources of support, encouragement, and joint political action. They also offer employees overall well-being regardless of the consequences.[1] When friendships go awry, political problems often arise. The involved parties have problems coordinating their work,…

Office politics and social class

Social class is rarely discussed in polite company. Although social class is an undeniably important social category, it is based as much on luck as accomplishment. That makes it rife with potential unfairness. Nevertheless, social class heavily influences office politics,…