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Build Your Career Office Life

6 Types of Office 'Politicians' and How to Handle Them

6 Types of Office 'Politicians' and How to Handle Them
Credit: Lightspring/Shutterstock

The presidential campaign trail won't be the only place that will be filled with political strife this year. New research from Accountemps revealed that political discord also play a big role in today's office life.

Overall, 55 percent of employees say they partake at least somewhat in office politics, with most of those doing so to advance their careers. The study found that 76 percent of workers believe that office politics affect their efforts to get ahead, up from 56 percent who felt that way in 2012.

Gossiping and spreading rumors is the most popular form of office politicking within their company, with 46 percent of employees saying it is the behavior they see most often. Gaining favor by flattering the boss, taking credit for others' work and sabotaging co-workers' projects are among the other, more common forms of office politics employees say they witness. [See Related Story: Co-Workers Sabotaging Your Career? Here's How to Deal]

To help employees navigate the political landscape of their office, Accountemps identified six types of office politicians and how to handle them.

  1. Gossip hound: This person is a know-it-all when it comes to what is happening around the office and isn't afraid to share every last detail with anyone. They love spilling secrets to co-workers or sharing confidential information on social media. When dealing with a gossip hound it is critical for employees to keep their conversations related to business. If the conversation starts to drift to the personal lives of co-workers, try to exit the discussion as quickly as possible.
  2. Credit thief: This person will do whatever it takes to get ahead, even if that means taking credit for someone else's ideas. To avoid being the credit thief's target, be sure to speak up about your views and what you are working on in front of the whole team. Also, provide your boss with frequent updates so they never get confused about who should be getting credit for your work.
  3. Flatterer: This person like to pass out compliments left and right, but it can be difficult to tell when the flatterer is being genuine and when he or she is just trying to win people over. Luckily, most company leaders can tell when someone is being fake, so there isn't a need for you to call out the flatterer’s behavior.
  4. Saboteur: This person works only to benefit him or herself. They are openly critical of others and don't hesitate to throw co-workers under the bus. In addition, they rarely take responsibility for their own mistakes. It is important to keep your guard up when dealing with a saboteur. You might have luck in stopping this behavior by simply confronting the saboteur. However, if that doesn't work, keep track of your exchanges and relay them to your boss or someone in human resources.
  5. Lobbyist: This person fights hard and has a reputation for swaying opinions in his or her favor. In order to make sure your views are heard, it is important to speak up when you disagree with the lobbyist's opinions. While these employees often don't appreciate hearing opinions that differ from theirs, explaining your viewpoint might be what's needed to open them up to new ideas.
  6. Adviser: The adviser is often the person company leaders confide in and turn to for assistance. You are best served by befriending the adviser since they know a lot about what is happening within the company and wield a lot of influence behind the scenes.

Bill Driscoll, a district president for Accountemps, said office politics are a natural part of workplace dynamics and there are situations where it can't be avoided.

"The key is to understand what's at the core of politically charged situations, such as personalities or working relationships, and try to resolve issues in a tactful manner," Driscoll said in a statement. "If you must get involved, you want to be seen as the diplomat."

The study was based on surveys of more than 1,000 U.S. workers who were employed in offices.

Chad  Brooks
Chad Brooks

Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who has nearly 15 years experience in the media business. A graduate of Indiana University, he spent nearly a decade as a staff reporter for the Daily Herald in suburban Chicago, covering a wide array of topics including, local and state government, crime, the legal system and education. Following his years at the newspaper Chad worked in public relations, helping promote small businesses throughout the U.S. Follow him on Twitter.