Workplace Battles and Politics

The more I support companies in their quest to get to the next level of organizational and business performance, I find the conversations predominantly shifting to how we handle conflict and politics at work.

A few weeks ago I provided some support to Sue Shellenbarger, a journalist with the Wall Street Journal on a topic about battles in the workplace. The article was published on the December 17th edition and is available on line at

Here is an extract of 2 sections.

Losing Battles

In some situations, consider a retreat.

  • Don’t wage war without offering a solution or suggested route to one.
  • Don’t pick fights over issues that aren’t important to your employer or your ability to work.
  • Don’t battle over issues outside your area of influence or responsibility.
  • Don’t take on colleagues because you dislike their personality.
  • Don’t pick battles with co-workers who are far more powerful than you.

Winning Strategies

  • Plan ahead on how to describe the problem and draw the listener into helping solve it.
  • Ask yourself whether you will be able to control your emotions when discussing the issue.
  • Think about whether you can deal with any criticisms that may be fired back at you.
  • Take up the conflict with someone who has the power to do something about it.
  • Bring up disagreements as soon as you know they’re going to be a problem.
  • Test support for your position informally with trusted colleagues

As we all get ready for 2015, this may be a helpful list of reminders on some of the things that can hinder or help us navigate the challenging interactions we will undoubtedly face in 2015 and beyond.



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