What’s Your Office Politics Pet Peeve?

by Jennifer Miller on February 24, 2011

in Office Politics, Workplace Issues

My blog post Networking Inside the Company Walls, which was part of a blog series onPositive Office Politics, has been on of the most popular posts on The People Equation. As the name of the blog series implies, the focus was on the positive aspects of office politics. (Yes, there are positive aspects. Check out the post if you’re skeptical.)

A far more commonly held view of office politics, however, is a negative one, In fact, “politics” in general gets a bad rap, as evidenced by the photo at left. It’s sad but true: many people behave badly at work in an effort to get what they want, shirk responsibility or malign someone’s good name. No doubt, we’ve all seen those “politicians” out there maneuvering in the workplace.

I’m giving a presentation in a few weeks on the topic of Office Politics. Because it’s always great to have fresh information, I’d love it if you’d offer up your opinions in the comments section below to the follow question:

What’s your biggest office politics pet peeve? What are the negative behaviors you see acted out at the office that give “office politics” its bad name?

I look forward to hearing from you!

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Angie Chaplin February 24, 2011 at 8:34 am

One of my biggest pet peeves is avoiding to point out the elephant in the living room. Everyone knows it’s there, yet no one wants to point it out or, God fordbid, actually offer up ways to address it.

Another one is meetings-after-meetings, when decisions are made and supported as a team in a meeting, then after the fact small groups gather in offices or hallways to talk about their REAL feelings about the issue. This is called the Abilene Paradox, which is a topic I’ve presented.

Related to this one (see, now you got me going…) is when there is a problem with me or something I’ve done that isn’t popular or is questioned, and people talk amongst themselves rather than coming straight to the source for clarification.

OK, I’ll step off my soapbox now. =)

John M. Failla February 24, 2011 at 8:39 am

I have a young, energetic manager of a staff of 8 who does great work with her team. She has industry experts (from her network) come in to speak with her team on relevant subjects, but she does not invite anyone outside of her team to these. When asked why she doesn’t share, she says that they’re her “friends”, and her doing, and she is doing whatever she needs to to be competitive with her group.

As an L&D professional, this drives me crazy. I would have to say not “playing well with others” would be one of my pet peeves.

Brian Mack February 24, 2011 at 10:41 am

Two hot ones that come immediately to mind are:

– Information Hoarding: When one individual deliberately withholds pertinent intelligence from colleagues as a means of controlling power or demonstrating superiority.

– The Chameleon: That individual who is all positive support & agreement to your face, but can’t wait to throw you under the bus either when your back is turned or when the wind shifts.

Jennifer February 24, 2011 at 12:38 pm

@Angie– Oh, my, I love when you get on your soapbox. I agree that all three of your situations can create further stress, misinformation and hard feelings. Excellent list!

@John– ah, it appears you may have a “hoarder” on your hands. I wonder, what’s driving the “scarcity” mentality with this person? Would it be appropriate for you to broach that subject?

@Brian– how great tha you put this in terms of an animal– like the Chameleon. I’m thinking of doing something like that for the GRAPE preso. Hope you can join us!

Doug shaw February 24, 2011 at 2:00 pm

Nice ask. How about how email has ruined good, efficient conversation? I see folk drowning in pointless emails sent and copied to folk as a pathetic attempt to arse cover. Just talk with each other, reach agreement then get on and make it happen. We are forgetting how to converse, it’s sad

Jennifer February 24, 2011 at 2:13 pm


Oh, good one– taking on the “email ping-pong” effect. I hadn’t thought about this as office politics, but I do see how it might turn into that if people are hiding behind the email curtain rather than facing issues head-on.

Thanks for your input!

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