Puddle Coach Column ~ Q&A / Office/Work: No More Office Politics, Please!

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Puddle Coach Column, by Patrice Swenson                                                                                                                     Have a question for the Puddle Coach? Submit here


Dear Puddle Coach,                                                                                                                                                                                        Patrice Swenson, Puddle CoachDescription: Description: Description: http://www.rainbowinthepuddle.com/sites/default/files/images/Life%20Coach%20Pic%20for%20Business%20Card_2.jpg

I recently started a new job in a medical office where I work along side of several team members to provide medical device solutions to patients. Part of the job is working with patients on the sales floor and another part is managing the back side of the transaction in a chaotic back room: ordering, verifying, insurance and administrative data entry. My dilemma is with how to navigate the dysfunctional office politics between all of the ladies I work with. 

My direct supervisor seems to take everything personally, so her communication style ranges from not acknowledging that any of us are in the room for hours at a time to an angry tone of voice when she needs to give anyone a work task or critique. Occasionally, she can be pleasant, but only when the subject is something she is knowledgeable and passionate about. My coworkers, on the other hand, have developed an environment of gossip, talking behind one another's back and side-taking to cope with the behavior of our direct supervisor. 

How do I develop productive, professional relationships with all of them and still remain above the craziness, especially since we are all in the same room together?

No more office politics...PLEASE! 

Dear No More Office Politics,

As I was reading your letter I couldn't help but wonder how many offices you are describing; I'm betting this goes on everywhere. I commend your desire to develop productive and professional relationships, despite the environment you're in. Quite often, the things that annoy us are the things we have grown past in our lives and don't want to dip back into. Your direct supervisor seems to be suffering from a personal struggle and possibly a lack of positive communication skills. Although it may be difficult to deal with, it might help to remember it's all about her personal struggles. She might be a little insecure and perhaps using her position to nurture a weak and sensitive ego by intimidating, criticizing and creating inconsistent patterns for people to follow.  


You have already begun the process of developing productive, professional relationships by simply observing "what is" and not reacting to it. I think you're on the right path to what you want. You can't change any of the people you work with and it's not likely you will be able to stop the gossip chain; however, you can choose to stick to what you want by simply making your engagements professional. You sound like a leader; lead the pack by example. Change often comes from exposure to people who demonstrate the change they seek! On a lighter note, if you are looking to the positive in the negative...the miss-directed supervisor has fostered an environment of bonding between employees; using her as the common denominator for connection. My guess is that it continues because they are bonding over it. What other possible topics or interactions might you introduce to create "NEW" ways to bond? Any common denominator will get people to bond; maybe you can figure out what else there is to talk about...seems like they could use someone with a "fresh" idea and "NEW" topic! If all else fails, there is always that complex solution of repeating the following: "it is what it is", smile and be glad they make work...entertaining! 

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