With the 2012 presidential election still sounding in our ears, we have gotten a heavy dose of politics for the last ten months. At times, politics can be frustrating, unreal, a game of artificiality, dishonesty, and kissing up. And yet, politics are not only found in Washington or in the government office. Politics abound in the workplace, and, as much as we would like to abolish them altogether, they seem to be here to stay. They might even be useful.

Is it possible for us to get along with politics? Is it possible that politics can actually be useful for people who aren’t running for office? The short answer is yes. As long as you’re working with people, you should learn how to use office politics to your advantage or risk missing the career opportunities you deserve. Here are three good reasons why:

1. Everyone else does.

Like it or not, politics are the language of the office. Just like in government, people lie, cheat, schmooze, and call in favors to get what they want and get ahead. They used these methods because they work. And those who fail to learn and act in accordance with the rules of politics find themselves at a loss in the workplace.

This isn’t to say that you have to become a backstabbing manipulator, walking all over everyone in the office to get what you want. No, that will only earn you enemies. But learning how to persuade others, how to build consensus around your ideas, and how to get support from management are vital to your career success.

2. Perception is reality.

Although, in an ideal world, people would know how much you’ve accomplished without you having to launch a public relations campaign. But the fact of the matter is, people have to make sense of the world according to the information on hand. The people who work under you. The people you have to cooperate with. The people you have to report to. Managers are not exempt from this human weakness.

Expecting people to abandon this practice is unrealistic. It’s sort of human nature. So instead of keeping your head down and doing your work, hoping that someone discovers your accomplishments by a stroke of luck, you need to get out there and politic a little. Let people know what you’re doing and how you’re succeeding.

3. Managers have limited visibility.

Managers don’t know everything about what’s happening in your world, no matter how much they may seem to hover and micromanage, no matter how high up they are on the chain. They don’t Not unless you tell them. So, if you want them to make decisions that are in your best interest, make sure they understand what you’re doing, what you’re accomplishing, and even what challenges you’re facing.

By giving generous time to keeping your manager in the loop and even making them feel good about themselves, your career will grow by leaps and bounds.

So how do you use office politics to improve your career without losing your soul? Share in the comments below!

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