Office politics are a fact of life and have been for millennia. Problems will arise whenever people gather together in large numbers. One caveman didn’t like the way another hunted, or a group of women thought that another man’s wife was a megalomanic. Office politics are nothing new, and unless you plan on becoming a hermit, you’ll need to deal with it sooner or later.
Seneca was no stranger to politics. Born into the upper echelons of Roman society and tutor to the Emperor Nero, he was well acquainted with how bitchy people can be when they have power. Rather than buy into the rat race though, Seneca was a big fan of not letting your emotions get the best of you.
Easier said than done, right? The ins and outs of office politics on a daily basis is enough to make the average person angry, anxious, depressed or all three. But the best advice Seneca has for you is to try using logic over emotion. Don’t even let anger get a foot-hold in your mind, because once it does, it’s really hard to control.
Also, don’t be a hypocrite. If Lucy from HR butts in front of you in the printing line, try seeing it from her point of view. Maybe she’s really busy and her boss is on her case about doing that task right now! Besides, you’ve probably done the same thing at some point. You can’t get angry at someone for doing something your guilty of as well.
A person who is ruled by their emotions will never truly be productive or happy. They get in the way. No one’s saying it’s easy to brush aside the feeling of being unappreciated, but as with any other habit, it will get easier the more you do it.
Seneca was also a fan or virtue. If you’re a good person, no one can really bring you down. Why? Because you’re better than them. You’re above bitching behind someone else’s back or dropping snide comments while making coffee with Sam from Accounts. So what if the girls from reception don’t like you? You’re a good person. You still give them a smile in the morning and a cheerful goodbye in the afternoon. It comes down to a simple choice – let the unhappy people effect you, or realise that being virtuous is the one thing no one can take away from you.
You won’t get the hold of your emotions straight away. Seneca himself wrote three books on anger. But if you begin working on not letting people getting to you, and accepting the fact that some people will always cause a problem, your experience of office politics will be a lot easier to put up with.