If you’ve spent more than a month in any particular job you’ve been confronted with a situation in which, to one extent or another, you have to play a bit of politics. You have to decide which side of an argument to support, whether or not to trash talk a coworker to someone else or make some other move that involves taking sides in some form.
It’s an unfortunate part of the adult world. Many people have an agenda that’s more about them and their own advancement than the success of the company. It puts everyone around them in an uncomfortable situation. Too often they see anyone who doesn’t actively take sides against them as being positioned against them, cutting them out of important conversations and going around them whenever possible.
Corporate politics is something that has never held much interest in me. That’s not to say I haven’t occasionally sniped about a coworker to someone else, but I’m pretty comfortable saying I’ve never actively worked against anyone to further myself and my career. I don’t think I’ve ever intentionally worked to build up a “side” with the goal that they will back me in a future dispute or other situation. The better, more natural path for me has always just to be as friendly and helpful as possible to whoever I can and hope that good karma comes back to me.
Doing anything else, actively scheming in some way, always seemed to me not only be a waste of time at best and actively harmful at worst. It was a distraction from the job at hand, taking energy away from doing the best work possible.
I’m not saying that everyone I’ve ever worked with has been some sort of scheming wannabe-Machiavelli. That’s absolutely not the case as most of my coworkers over the years have been wonderful, unselfish people who want nothing but success for everyone involved.
I’ll also admit that my disinterest in playing any sort of political games has probably impacted my career advancement to some extent. Because I was always more concerned with sharing success with my team and actively not promoting my own achievements, I haven’t played the game the same way others have. So people with zero case studies of their own are doing very well for themselves by acting as thought leaders while those of us with tons of personal hands-on experience are…well…not.
Did not playing the corporate politics game hurt me? Possibly. Do I feel better for not having actively stabbed someone in the back to get myself ahead? Absolutely.