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How to stay focused when politics affects your job

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How do you remain diplomatic when the job you hold has political ties?  Politics and business have always been strange bedfellows, and people in politically appointed pseudo business positions must learn to walk a very thin line in diplomacy. So, how do you accomplish that when you seem to be a target even before you begin your first day?{{more}}

1. Focus on the job.  People will always try to push you to take sides.  Always go back to the purpose of the position you hold and emphasize the goals you are trying to accomplish.   It’s not about you and where you stand politically—it’s about the task you have at hand to carry out.

2. Do not flaunt your political support.  A surefire way to antagonize any opposing factions is to use your job to flaunt your political support.  Even if your job is appointed, keep your personal political activities separate. The fact that you were appointed is an indication to many of where you stand politically, whether that’s true or not.

3. Reach out to the other side.  As much as possible, reach out to a cross-section of people so you garner support for your project or cause.  You have no control over who will accept the offer but making the effort, even if it is fiercely rejected, is a start.  Know the objection is against what you stand for and not necessarily against you personally, and continue making those offers to engage all those who are affected by your decisions when possible.

4. Decide not to get sucked into political fights.  Efforts will be made to engage and distract you to get wrapped up in discussions and arguments that bear no weight on your job performance.  Graciously change the topic or walk away from such discussions as they can only be destructive.

5. Document everything.  Keep track of what you have accomplished and your process.  Not many people can argue with a track record that is well documented.

6. Get a sense of humour.  Humour can be an ice-breaker, so use it to your advantage instead of taking everything so seriously.

7. Be relentless.  As you push to be a way maker, those that oppose you are waiting for you to get tired and give up.  If you truly believe in the project, cause or service, then you must make up your mind to complete the task. 

Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.”
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