For someone who is obsessed with national and international politics - Silvio Berlusconi? Really? Did you REALLY think that one through, Italy? - I am pitifully inept at office politics.
It's a fact of life: You get to a new job - or join a new cub, or organization... whatever -and there are internal political struggles boiling just below the calm surface of new bright, smiling faces.
But how to avoid being sucked into the struggles by either one side or the other? What do you do? Who can you trust?
Things I've Learned in 25 Years of Working and (Successfully) Tested at This New Job:
1.) Beware of the first person to sit him/herself down in your office and offer to show you the ropes. S/he is a spider trying to lure you into a web of ulterior motives.
2.) Beware the first person to invite you to lunch, unless s/he is your boss. See #1 above.
3.) Stick closely to the people in Human Resources - they can't afford to get involved in politics, and while they are only barely tolerated by "the whole," they are safe.
4.) Beware of your boss, frankly. Be mindful of how people react when you tell them to whom you report. If they recoil in horror - or even twitch - watch your back and make nice with the next higher person on the food chain.
5.) Make nice with the next highest person on the food chain anyway - consider it insurance.
6.) If your boss is new and you are his/her first new hire you may very well be treated as The Favorite Child. This sucks, but you are now The Firstborn - consider how your mother treats the oldest child in your family. Share credit whenever possible with your workmates even if they are lazy bitches.
7.) Do not accompany ANYONE (except boss or boss's boss) to lunch until you have established yourself as a political independent. One sighting crossing the parking lot with The Wrong People and you're sunk. It is understood that you HAVE to work with The Wrong People within the confines of the building, just don't socialize. Not even at lunch.
8.) Just do yourself a favor and spend your lunch hour at your desk with a book.
9.) Do not question the system until at least one person in your department has been fired/left and an opening is created so your boss can blame departmental shortcomings on whoever left.
10.) Get to your desk before your boss gets to his/hers and don't leave until they leave. It never fails to impress. You can be the biggest loser in the department, but someone will always defend you by saying, "Oh, bless him/her. He's a f*ck up, but he works so hard."
Like that desk? http://www.holmanstudios.com/images2004/furniture/desk_ww2.jpg