In our last post, we discussed the art of conversational politics – how to use language effectively to advance yourself and to help unlock your secret handshake potential. This week, as we continue our blog series on The Secret Handshake: Mastering The Politics of The Business Inner Circle by Dr. Kathleen Reardon, we will be examining how to handle negative political situations, or “games” according to Dr. Reardon, that might exist within your company, and some strategies on how you can diffuse them.
Here are some political maneuvers to watch out for:
- Damning with Faint Praise (Reardon 131)
This move is used when someone does not want to be perceived as saying something negative about someone else. Instead, they praise the person in question in a halfhearted manner. Think about if you’re asked to write a recommendation for someone you’re not too keen about – it might contain some nice messages, but will be lacking in informative, helpful information.
- Lording (Reardon 137)
This is another strategy for keeping people “in their place.” It involves using coercive means to get a person to see or do things the lorder’s way (Reardon 137). Practice your skills of reading between the lines to discover if this is happening.
- Enough Rope (Reardon 139)
Sometimes, people talk at length about a certain problem, eventually talking so much they make things much worse for themselves. When someone does this, the politically savvy strategy is to let them continue talking so that they eventually incriminate themselves.
- Fake Left, Go Right (Reardon 141)
This strategy is deceitful and manipulative. It involves allowing or encouraging someone to think one condition exists when really it is another condition entirely that’s in place. Some companies do this, for example, by sending a manager to training when really they are preparing to let them go.
- Poisoning The Well (Reardon 143)
This classic move, involving gossip, allows us to lower others and raise ourselves up. Subtle and sinister, a good way to protect yourself from this is to have friends in the know who will keep you informed of any wrongdoing that might be going on.
- Playing it Fast and Loose (Reardon 145)
Those who use this strategy usually side with whoever is likely to do them the most good. One day they’re your friend, and the next it’s as if they’ve never met you before. To avoid this move, you may have to be a little fast and loose yourself!
We could not discuss politics without discussing some not-so-nice moves that people sometimes pull to get ahead in the game. The same goes in the business world. The only way to avoid these “ploys” is to be informed about them, learn to recognize them, and know what to do if and when you encounter them. People expect you to be unprepared in these situations, so surprise them with a counter-move, and show them how politically savvy you really are!
Reardon, Kathleen Kelley. The Secret Handshake: Mastering the Politics of the Business Inner Circle. New York: Doubleday, 2001. Print.