Workplace politics – some tactics people use

Image added on 23rd of April 2022

I know I already discussed that but will need to state it again – I believe the Home Group drama caused me some type of brain damage, one where I’m unusually focused on working out patterns around me. That helps me understand some of the human behaviours that were puzzling me before but at a cost of feeling triggered a lot. I wonder whether that will eventually stop?

Basically I am constantly trying to work out what is happening around me, while at the same time I’m aware that quite a lot of that knowledge is rather useless, I was able to cope quite ok without it, yes, I wasn’t successful but I was doing ok. I also know some autistic people who are not extremely good with people but are successful. I also know some neurotypicals who are brilliant communicators and very good at what they do, yet are struggling to get the recognition they deserve, so I would risk saying that the need to understand people to succeed in life is at least somehow overrated.

Yet, as I recently worked out some workplace tactics that I saw over the years and didn’t understand, I will write about them. I guess some people may find them useful. And could you please refrain from using the term ‘office politics’ as it wrongfully implies that if one doesn’t work in the office they will not be exposed, while care homes snd hospitals can be full of politics. By proxy I assume every workplace can have issues with that, so please say ‘workplace politics’ instead.

One of the tactic that was puzzling me is when someone puts consistently enormous effort into their work, making everything over the top. I thought those people are just workaholics and need to learn to relax. Example would be: there is a new colleague in your workplace who consistently makes the same, small mistake. The easiest and quickes way to deal with it would be to have a 1-2-1 conversation with that colleague and explain what they need to be doing differently. Instead another colleague creates a sophisticated presentation for the entire team about possible mistakes in your line of work. The presentation contains loads of examples, screenshots and videos, and it’s really throughout and detailed. And you think, no one else makes any mistakes, it’s only this one colleague and this one mistake so what that was for?

You talk with the colleague who did the presentation and they tell you they didn’t want to intimidated the new one. But you think, both of them have very good people skills so it would be easy for them to talk without making anybody feel bad. And you think this doesn’t add up.

Next time there is a problem the same colleague reacts exactly the same way: he chooses solution that requires the most effort and he does that every single time.

What for? No, he’s not necessarily a workaholic. What he is doing, he’s communicating through his actions that he’s determined to succeed and if anyone gets in his way, he’ll make sure they regret it. So the next time there is possibility of promotion no one else even applies, or even if someone does that will be only to communicate that they would also like to be promoted at some point, but later, as the overly hardworking colleague needs to get what they want first.

A different phenomenon, possibly not a tactic as such is, when somebody who is hardworking but doesn’t play any politics, doesn’t even really talk to people more that they have to, suddenly gets supported by colleagues who don’t even know him well. This is a real life situation, but I will not be giving too many details, as it’s not about me.

You know, how we are always being told that confidence and excellent communication skills are essential to succeed in the workplace? I suppose they are in a lot of places but now imagine somewhere that pays very well and looks great on CV but the place doesn’t give permanent contracts, unless to managers. What happens there is, everyone wants to stay as long as they can so they play politics like crazy. People try to eliminate and undermine one another and then there is this one person who just does the job so they don’t threaten anybody and as a result, when there are any new openings, everyone wants that person on their team, people even use tricks to get him to do well at interviews (the details of that I will keep to myself).

I already mentioned the fact that someone can even bully their subordinate into a promotion. Now it seems so obvious to me, but made totally no sense just a few months ago.

Anyway, I wonder, do I really need to know all of that? I was coping without it rather ok. I do not wish on any other autistic person the amount of thinking I was through to work all of that out. And it is especially difficult because people never discuss things like that openly, even if they change the job. Can you imagine somebody telling you: in my last workplace, you know, I didn’t really want to be a manager but the other colleague who was competing with me was really career driven so my manager didn’t like him. I still didn’t want to compete, but then, when the post got advertised my manager started doing strange things and suggesting I’d better apply. I felt like I had no choice.

No, no one is going to say that, unless you know them really, really well. But possibly not even then. What they may say instead will be ‘I didn’t really want to be a manager… it just happened’ and you will then think, what that is supposed to mean? Did he not know where the situation was heading, the same like we sometimes don’t?

Confusing, isn’t it?

Possibly, as I become established blogger, some neurotypical people will want to add to this list, but we’re not there yet, although my statistics are really good today.

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