The Reality Of Navigating Workplace Politics


Every university student seems excited for their first internship or entry-level position. After all, people tell us to be excited after a long, arduous job-hunting process. But as soon as we enter the office, we notice a change in dynamics. The dynamics are not similar to just friendship or relationship drama, or even a reality TV show. 

In reality, the dynamics are much more nuanced to explain. 

Sometimes, as interns or entry-level employees, we get tossed around in multiple different situations – maybe we’re forced to pick sides or listen to our superiors vent about their problems and complaints. And oftentimes, it can be exhausting and challenging to navigate. We know that, as new workers, we don’t have the power to change or fix the situation from happening. Our main priority is to learn at the workplace. 

After many internships, I always thought that the workplace dynamic would eventually get better, especially in bigger corporations or in roles that require technical skills. However, I realized that workplace politics in general are part of every organization. 

My peers and I have found it difficult to navigate workplace politics.

This is especially true since no one teaches us about it throughout the job application process. At most, our supervisors give training on what to do throughout a specific situation, as well as how to report the situation to the respective institutions. But no one really talks about the reality of facing conflict and politics. 

Throughout my experience, if I or the other interns picked the wrong side, and are told to follow through with a task in a certain matter, we may be told by other parties to not follow through with the specific task. These conflicts put us in an uncomfortable position, as we do not know which party to satisfy. I feel as if I get tossed around sometimes, even if it’s just simply for a shoulder to cry on. 

As humans, we want to develop relationships and work as a team throughout the term. One of the ways that we form groups is by creating teams on our own to feel connected and identify ourselves with a specific crowd. However, being tossed back and forth between teams has made it very difficult for my peers and me to trust others and complete tasks. 

In the past, I haven’t had the best experience navigating workplace politics. It has mainly resulted in me being in the center of attention, or being thrown out of the team. Perhaps I wasn’t ready to realize the impacts of my actions. And maybe I faced challenges in terms of identifying the issue. 

However, I’ve learned that workplace politics is just one aspect of work.

This especially applies in an environment with high levels of stress and human interaction. Unfortunately, they’re inevitable to avoid. The only way out is to prepare and treat every employee with respect. And, perhaps, not get involved much. 

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels


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