Office politics is a necessary evil of work life that should not be ignored.

Ignoring the inevitable office politics in your workplace may be a more comfortable option, but may also set you back long-term. Choosing to stay out if it may mean being frozen out of key projects, allowing others to take credit for your hard work or even being passed over for a promotion.

Many managers, who focus on strengthening management and technical abilities but ignore office politics put their careers at risk. Office politics is a form of social intelligence every professional will have to navigate regularly throughout their career. As a business owner, there is an additional layer of complexity when dealing with a client’s political environment and culture. It can make the difference between keeping and losing the client.

Humans are emotional creatures, biased by unconscious needs and riddled with insecurities that often manifest themselves in hidden agendas, gossip, passive-aggressive behavior or negative attitudes.  Stress and powerlessness often come out in the form of a bad attitude. Office politics can overwhelm formal organizational roles and hijack critical organizational processes. Simple tasks can become complex and tedious, making ineffective organizations, which can result in work-related stress and burnout. Many talented, hard-working team members have suffered due to their inability to navigate office politics.

Tips to navigating office politics successfully:

Be collaborative and avoid silos. Pay it forward when you can. If you help others, they will help you out in your time of need. Take some time to get to know your colleagues and direct reports, which will foster deeper working relationships. See collaboration as an opportunity instead of as a challenge. Network throughout the organization. Identify and build strong relationships with the organization’s influencers. Don’t burn bridges. Stay friends with former bosses and colleagues. You never know when you may need a professional reference, a lead or a business introduction. Stay professional in the light of uncomfortable situations. Take a moment to step away emotionally and evaluate the situation from a different perspective. Try your best to maintain professionalism. If the issue cannot be solved, looking elsewhere may be your best career option. If you make a mistake, own up. People respect someone who can admit their mistakes and confront a situation honestly. Allow some time to pass and things will improve. Observe relationships between coworkers and superiors, and pay attention to informal social networks. Which co-workers get along? Which don’t? Avoid hiding when the team gets into a competitive situation. Going toe-to-toe will win respect.

A sole focus on getting the job done is not enough these days. Choosing not to engage in office politics can lead to isolation from coworkers, which can make it difficult to try and have any sort of influence down the road—not to mention getting credit for a job well done.

Michele Cuthbert is the CEO of Baker Creative, a global WBE-, DBE- and MBE-certified creative brand management firm. For more information, visit or