Skip to content

How to Navigate Conflict and Win at Office Politics

how to navigate conflict and win at office politics

Conflict is part of life, and in the workplace, conflict can show up as office politics. Left unmanaged, conflict in the workplace can lead to unhappy and unproductive workers who don’t trust their co-workers. 

While conflict is often a part of life, it’s possible to navigate the storm and create a stronger organization by respecting individual differences and moving toward a solution that everyone can live with. 

Personality tests can help co-workers understand one another by getting to the root of their needs and values. Understanding where your coworkers are coming from will help the team embrace each other’s differences, navigate conflict more easily, and improve relationships and everyday life at the office.

Sources of Conflict in the Workplace

The root of conflict comes from differences. This could mean clashes in interests, work styles or priorities. Working with people who are of a different gender, race, age or culture can also lead to conflict caused by differing worldviews. 

Coworkers may have different levels of education or a huge age difference as Generation Z joins the office and retirees reenter the workforce. There is also likely to be an army of freelancers, gig workers and remote employees to consider. Poor communication and ill-defined responsibilities can also lead to conflict and politics among team members. 

With so many people at the table, it’s no wonder that working in harmony is becoming more and more difficult in today’s environment. No matter what the source of the conflict, it is important to handle the situation quickly in a controlled and constructive way.

Politics at the Office

Office politics happens when people use power to benefit individuals, often themselves, within the company. A workplace rife with office politics creates a negative culture where individuals are vying for an advantage and seeking others to help. Office life becomes stressful as co-workers gossip, fawn on those in management and seek an unfair advantage over others. 

In a highly political workplace, employees lose their sense of belonging and are unlikely to put forth their best effort for the good of the company. Conflict can arise when certain individuals are (unfairly) selected for a high profile project or given a better title, and others are not. When people who believe they have been wronged or start to draw others to “their side,” office politics begin. 

To be productive, team members have to learn to get along and focus on properly navigating office politics.

Dealing with Office Politics and Conflict in the Workplace:

While conflict may be inevitable, it doesn’t always have to be negative. Honest, constructive conflict between people with opposing views can bring out new and innovative ideas. But when conflict loses its constructive focus, it results in a negative company culture that sets the stage for office politics.  

Our best advice for employees and managers is to foster improved communication, greater collaboration and more effective teamwork in their workplace. Here are a few tips to rise above the fray and navigate office politics: 

  • Keep Your Eyes on the Prize

People who participate in office politics are trying to manipulate situations and others for their personal benefit, not for the good of the organization. Stay focused on the goals of the company and do what is necessary to accomplish your tasks. Staying focused when others are going off-track positions you as a leader, not a victim.

  • Practice the Art of Active Listening

Remember that there is a real difference between simply hearing when someone speaks to you and actively listening. Make an effort to truly understand where others are coming from when they disagree with you. They may have a point.

  • Stay Positive

Ineffective complaining sessions are unproductive and are likely to damage your reputation. Move past complaining and find a win-win solution where you encourage others to listen to other points of view and come up with a resolution that everyone can accept. Be the team member who can handle difficult situations with grace and maturity.

  • Don’t Take Sides

When emotions fly out of control, offer remarks that are focused on what is best for the company. Stay as neutral as possible to avoid becoming a target for sparring groups. Remaining neutral will help you maintain your relationships when the crisis calms down.

  • Collaborate

In today’s world leaders and teams must work together across teams and departments, not just their immediate peers and senior team members. Maintain connections to others and develop your network when you participate in cross-departmental projects, attend meetings and join company social events. The success of businesses relies largely on the way the team works together. 

Navigating Conflict and Creating a Positive Culture

True Colors offers Advanced Certification in Conflict Navigation. At True Colors, we help organizations create a culture of success where every employee feels understood and empowered. True Colors drives positive change in organizations around the world by encouraging leaders and staff to embrace individual personality differences. We use personality tests based on proven temperament theory to teach leaders and co-workers personal awareness for improved communication, engagement, collaboration and productivity. 

When you partner with True Colors, an experienced Master Trainer will help evaluate your needs and set realistic, achievable goals. We help your organization thrive by implementing programs that meet challenges in leadership, team building and conflict. Our customized programs include online personality testing, consulting sessions, workshops, live events and keynote speaking engagements.