Dealing with workplace politics

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Dealing with workplace politics

Devious politicking is unpleasant, dangerous and unnecessary. It is detrimental to achieving overall success and a positive working atmosphere, and yet we still need to be able to handle such situations. Here’s a dos and don’ts formula for dealing with workplace politics:

Checklist for Dealing with Office Politics

Do                                                           Don’t

-Be open and honest, say how you feel  -Embellish a story for effect

-Be loyal to people                                  -Drop somebody just because their

                                                                  face doesn’t fit

-Your job professionally and always be  -Expect to be rated as an achiever if

as positive as you can be                          you don’t work productively

-Voice your opinion clearly and ensure   -Pass your opinion as if it is fact

that people know it is your opinion

-Recognize other people’s success           -Envy others’ success

-Speak well of people                               -Continuously criticize and find fault

                                                                   with people

Continue the checklist

III. Communication Practice

Team work

Design a gratitude speech on behalf of the Students Committee to the university administration at the graduation party; rely on Expressing Gratitude strategy.



Topic 2. expressing frustration & being depressed

I. General

Practicum 2.1

Study the communication strategy of Expressing Frustration

Step1 Indicate that you understand what happened / is going on
Step 2 Try and define what you feel and why
Step 3 Ask for help

Practicum 2. 2

Explain what is meant by the terms to follow

To frustrate (the news frustrated me, the weather frustrated my plans), frustration, frustrated, frustrating vs embarrassing, embarrassment, to embarrass


Practicum 2.3

Arrange the Expressing Frustration vocabulary in 3 groups relating to 3 steps of communication strategy (some stock phrases can refer to more than one step) , e.g.

Step 1 Step 2 Step 3
Now I see what it is all about I am absolutely downbeat What do you suggest I do now?


I feel futile here

What do you think I could

I feel depressed by such news

I am frustrated

It is so depressing

I see what is going on

I come to understand what led to the crisis

I have no idea what might be done to (recover / reimburse / reconsider / return)

N. could have done better than

We should have helped N. to

II. Expressing Frustration Practice

Practicum 2.4

Rely on Expressing Frustration strategy in the situation to follow

- You got a 3 days’ notice of being made redundant (downsizing within the crisis management frame)

- Come home to find that you’ve been burglarized

- Come to know that you lost the tender for

- You’ve just learned about your friend whom you’ve been trusting completely bitching about you behind your back

- The promising project you’ve been slaving on for a year has been rejected by the board, the decision final

- You are the breadwinner of the family, lost the job, deep in the mortgage plan, with ten more years mortgage debt to pay

- Your boyfriend informed you of the order to active duty he had received


Tips to keep in mind

Company styles. A company usually has its own traditions and levels of fashion established by the field of activity and by its senior executives. The simple rule is to follow their lead to start with.

Try to always present yourself well and be noticed for the right reasons. You never know what is around the corner or who notices and recommends when promotions or new job opportunities arise. Picture yourself in your clothes for work. Does your outfit match your job?

A general tip: if in doubt, err on the smart side – smart conservative, smart casual, smart very casual, or smart trendy.

Here are some general guidelines, but there always be exceptions to any rule, and my advice is to use your initiative and be guided by the expected and accepted within your particular workplace.

For: Law                       smart conservative

Medical                  smart conservative

City                        generally smart conservative, but check if your

has a ‘dress-down day’ and if it does, smart casual

is the order of the day

Publishing             smart casual to conservative

Computer              very casual to conservative

Consultancy           smart casual to conservative

Music                     casual to trendy to conservative

Art / Design           very casual to trendy to conservative

Television              smart casual to trendy

L.Brennan. Business Etiquette for the 21st Century

Practicum 2.5

1. Try and define what is meant by the dressing styles mentioned above

2. Define your style as of today / your typical style at the university / when you go out / at the theatre

3. Relate your style to your prospective job

Team work

You are adjusting your company’s dress code to its new policy (define the new policy). Suggest points relating to dress codes that might frustrateyou as CEO of a company / an HR specialist / a PR specialist / a rank-and-file office worker / a receptionist / an office manager / a client

Text 2a

The text to follow deals in talking office policies / politics. Study the text and use it as a starting point for communication

Style & Self-Expression

Apart from the obvious need for warmth in cold climates, and for protection from the elements, dress, in all cultures, is essentially about three things: sex differentiation, status signals andaffiliation signals. Sex differentiation is usually the most obvious: even if a society shows very little variation in dress or personal adornment, there will always be at least some minor differences between male and female attire – differences that are often emphasized to make each sex more attractive to the other. By ‘status’ I mean social status or position in the broadest sense, and I am including age-differentiation in this category. Affiliation to a tribe, clan, sub-culture, social or ‘lifestyle’ group, covers everything else.

What modern, Western, post-industrial cultures like to see as ‘style’ or ‘self-expression’ is a glorified combination of self-differentiation, status signals and affiliation signals. We, English are at our sartorialbest when we have strict, formal rules and traditions to follow – when we are either literally or effectively ‘in uniform’.

Our need for sartorial rules has been highlighted in recent years by the ‘Dress-down Friday’ or ‘Casual Friday’ custom imported from America, whereby companies allow their employees to wear their own choice ofcasual clothes to the office on Fridays, rather than the usual formal business suits. A number of English companies adopted this custom. Most of the senior management, however, simply ignored the Casual Friday rule, choosing, perhaps wisely, to maintain their dignity by sticking to the normal business-suit uniform. This only served to emphasize hierarchical divisions within the business – quite the opposite of the chummy, democratizing effect intended by the Dress-down policy.

Grown-up semiotics are marginally less complex than the teenage rules and signals, and the class indicators are somewhat clearer. The current Guides to Etiquette and Modern Manners advise us to 'forget the old British adage that it isill-bred to be overdressed'. This rule dates from a time when it was the accepted norm to dress up for any activity more than gardening; and overdressing meant being got up in a flashy, overly elaborate or embarrassing way and took no account of the modern invasion of sports-inspired clothes that has enslaved whole swathes of the nation into sweats and trainers. The author has a point, particularly where men are concerned, but among females, flashy, over-elaborate dress is still an unmistakable lower-class indicator, while the higher echelons still manage to 'dress up' without looking fussy and overdone. Too much jewelry (especially gold jewelry, and necklaces spelling out one's name or initials), too much make-up, over-coiffed hair, fussy-dressy clothes, shiny tights and uncomfortably tight, very high-heeled shoes are all lower-class hallmarks, particularly when worn for relatively casual occasions. Deep, over-baked tans are also regarded as vulgar by the higher social ranks. As with furniture and home-decoration, too much laboured matching ofclothes or accessoriesis also a lower-class signal, particularly if the scheme involves a bright colour - say, a navy dress with red trim, red belt, red shoes, a red bag and a red hat (take off two more class points if any of these items are shiny as well as red). This kind of overdressing is often seen at working-class weddings or other special occasions. The same over-careful matching but with a more muted 'accent' colour, such as cream, would be lower-middle class; reducing the number of matched accessories to just two or three might raise the whole outfit to middle-middle status — but it would still be an 'outfit', still too fussy and Sunday-best, still too obviously dressed-up for the upper-middles.

For the crucial distinction between lower/middle-middle and upper-middle dress, think Margaret Thatcher (careful, stiff, smart, bright-blue suits; shiny blouses; matching shoes and bags; coiffed helmet of hair) versus Shirley Williams (worn, rumpled, thrown-together - but good quality - tweedy skirts and cardigans; dull, sludgy colours; nothing matching; messy, unstyled hair). This is not to say that any sort of scruffiness is 'posh', or that any attempt at dressing up is automatically lower-class. An upper-middle or upper class woman will not wear leggings and a grubby velour sweatshirt to go out to lunch at a smart restaurant - but she will turn up in something fairly simple and understated, without lots of heavy-handed matching and effortful accessorizing. Her hair may be casually 'unstyled', but it will not be greasy, or display several inches of dark roots straggling into a brassy-blonde dye with a half-grown-out perm.

Among adult English females, the amount of flesh on display can also be a class indicator. As a rule, the amount of visible cleavage is inversely correlated with position on the social scale – the more cleavage revealed by a garment, the lower the social class of its wearer (a daytime garment, that is - party dresses and ball gowns can be more revealing). For the middle-aged and over, the same rule applies to upper arms. And skimpy, skin-tight clothes clinging to bulges of fat are also lower class. The higher ranks have bulges too, but they hide them under looser or more substantial clothing.

The class rules on legs are rather less clear-cut, as there are two more factors to complicate the issue, namely: fashion and the quality of the legs in question. Lower-working-class females (and nouveaux-riches of working-class origin) tend to wear short skirts, when they are in fashion and often when they are not, regardless of whether they have good legs or not.

K. Fox. Watching the English

Practicum 2.6

Translate the italicized parts of Text 2a into Russian

Practicum 2.7

Practicum 2.8

Answer the questions to follow

Do you agree with the view that a dress code has to do with sex, status and affiliation? 

Suggest some universal dress guidelines which, if followed, will never make you feel uncomfortable dress-wise (setting, weather…)

Will you follow Casual Friday rule at work – Suggest Arguments to Support your choice

Text 2b

The text to follow deals in talking office policies / politics. Study the text and use it as a starting point for communication

Dress Policy

 Companies tend to adhere to a professional dress code for all staff members, Monday through Friday during regular business hours. All staff members must consistently follow the standards of appearance so that, as a team, we convey the appropriate image. When meeting with clients, in their office, staff members should conform to their attire. The following guidelines have been established to answer any questions and serve as a reference point.

NOTE: Clothing must fit properly, be neat, clean, pressed, and not faded or excessively worn.

Managers and supervisors are responsible for addressing inappropriate attire. An individual whose attire is outside of the boundaries outlined above will be asked by the supervisor or office manager to return home to change clothes. If the individual is a non-exempt employee, the time spent out of the office to change attire will be without pay. If the individual continues to wear inappropriate attire, he/she will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.


traditional business ■ Business Suits ■ Long sleeve shirt with collar, and tie ■ Dress shoes or boots with socks ■ Clean shaven or tasteful, well kept mustaches, beards or goatees ■ Business suits including dress blouse or shell, skirt or full length pants and jacket ■ Dress pumps, flats or boots with hosiery or socks (Skirts should be no shorter than (3) three inches above the knee)
business casual ■ Dress slacks, long sleeve shirt with collar, blazer or sweater ■ Dress shoes or boots with socks ■ Clean shaven or tasteful, well kept mustaches, beards or goatees   (Slacks must be pressed and either hemmed or cuffed) ■ Career Dress ■ Dress slacks or skirt with dress blouse or sweater ■ Dress pumps, dressy slides, flats or boots with hosiery or socks   (Skirts should be no shorter than (3) three inches above the knee)
business casual (May 1- Labor Day) ■ Casual slacks and collared short sleeve shirts with an available jacket in the office ■ Casual or dress shoes or dress boots with socks ■ Clean shaven or tasteful, well kept mustaches, beards or goatees (Slacks must be pressed and either hemmed or cuffed) ■ Casual dresses, slacks, skirts with blouses, or shells ■ Casual or dress pumps, dressy slides, flats, boots, and sandals (hosiery may be omitted if wearing pants or mid calf length skirts or dresses) (Skirts should be no shorter than (3) three inches above the knee)
exemptions (IS, Facilities, Records and approved Admin Services personnel) Only if the physical requirements of your work activity make professional/business dress impractical, please dress according to your manager's guidelines for the designated days. Golf shirts and casual pants are suggested Only if the physical requirements of your work activity make professional/business dress impractical, please dress according to your manager's guidelines for the designated days.   Casual blouse and casual pants are suggested
never appropriate

Rings and/or studs through the nose, eyebrow, tongue, or other visible body parts, except women may wear earrings in earlobes

Visible tattoos

Backless or sun dresses

Stirrup pants, stretch pants, Capri pants, с rop pants, or leggings

■Jeans or any other denim wear

■ Shorts (dress or casual) and culottes or skirts

■ T-shirts, golf shirts, tank tops, form fitting tops or clothing with spaghetti straps

Leather clothing (except shoes and belts)

Tennis shoes, flip-flops, canvas shoes, or deck shoes

Practicum 2.9

Translate italicized parts of Text 2b into Russian

Practicum 2.10

Practicum 2.11

Answer the questions

What punishments are provisioned in the above guidelines for breaking the approved company dress code?

What attire categories does the dress code distinguish?  

Which articles are strictly forbidden for females while in office?

Which male attires are frowned on at work?

III. Communication Practice


An executive team is working on a company’s dress code & being resolute about it

Practicum 2.12

Rea d about theory of management styles and define the type you are inclined to accept in your career towards people working under you

The theory of management style is based on two sets of basic assumptions about human nature. Basically, there are distinguished X-type and Y-type managers

X-type Y-type

According to men’s attitude to work

Man dislikes work and will avoid it whenever he can Work as natural as play or rest, man has a natural desire to work and be interested in his work

What motivates people to work

Man must be directed or even forced to put sufficient effort into achieving company’s objective Man wants to exercise self-direction and puts efforts into his work for his own self-respect and for the feeling of self-satisfaction. Rewards and punishments are relatively insignificant

Attitude towards responsibility

Job responsibilities must be written down in detail, man prefers to be directed rather take on responsibility Human beings actively seek responsibility and solve problems without being instructed by others

Driving force in life

The main driving force in life is desire for security Work is motivating itself, as man has natural desire to extend his capabilities and realize his full potential

Add other requirements the manager has to meet

PROGRESS TEST 2 (part 1)

Review the communication strategy of Challenging the View

Read the text and analyze the philosophy of clothing - either challenge or support the author’s view

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