I haven’t worked in a corporate office environment for almost five years now, but I remember vividly the stress of office politics. I hated it and I wasn’t good at the game-playing. Worse than that, I hated who I became when I tried to be good at them.
I had hoped I’d left the politics behind when I left Corporate America.
In every industry I’ve worked in, regardless of the office environment or company size, I’ve encountered some type of politicking. Even now, working from home, I still encounter a great deal of insincere schmoozing, back biting, and questionable business practices that go unquestioned - it’s just done by email and social media networks now instead of over lunches and in break rooms.
I still hate it.
I’m still not good at the game playing.
I don’t have the attention span to remember who hates whom and who are considered the Right People this month. I’m also a terrible liar - my facial expressions can be read like an open book by a complete stranger within 5 minutes of meeting me. If I even attempt to play nice at a conference because someone is supposedly “important” and I’m not really feeling it, discomfort practically oozes from me like bad gas. It’s awkward for everyone.
And so, I don’t play business politics. Period.
But sometimes I wonder if my income suffers because of it. I know there are opportunities I’ve missed out on because I didn’t play nice with the right A-lister. I’m sure there are valuable connections I could have made if I felt more comfortable gushing with the gurus. I’ve even witnessed the benefits of good game play in other people’s careers.
But I can’t, so I don’t.
My hope is that my growth, while possibly slower, will be more secure because it’s built only on authentic relationships that are fairly easy to maintain. House upon the rock and what-not. But I’d be lying if I didn’t say I wondered… and worried… that I am being naive.
Do you think it’s possible to “get ahead” without participating in business politics?