Power relations in the office

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No company is exempt from power games: clash of personalities, competition for the same objectives, wars between departments… Conflicts that can destabilize you no matter how much you look the other way and concentrate solely on your work.

While the word “power” doesn’t have to always carry a negative charge, for the good of your company and your career you must learn to recognize these unwritten power dynamics and rules and know how to manage them without compromising your values. This way you will be able to work productively with all your colleagues, even with the most competitive ones.

UK-based business management consultancy Revelation conducted a study in 2011 which showed that 95% of respondents claimed to have been affected by manipulation and hidden agendas of a colleague in their workplace.

“Let’s face it, if you have to work with real jerks, you won’t be able to change the situation no matter how much advice you receive. But, if you don’t have a strategy to deal with them, it can make the situation worse. You can control your environment much more than you imagine “

Challenges in the power relationship with your boss

These are the main “boss typologies” and the strategy that should be used in each situation.

The boss who doesn’t let you grow

When the person who should guide and encourage you in your work keeps your contributions hidden, it is clear that they are not valuing you.

You can improve the daily relationship with your boss by being the one who promotes the change by focusing on the things you have in common with him. Listening to the advice of some former employee; establishing alliances with the influential people of the company and speaking openly with your boss about the subject, from a constructive approach.

The boss who pits you against your peers

In many cases it is a deliberate tactic to assess their subordinates and to see who handles the pressure better. In this case, it is advisable to establish a series of dynamics and basic work rules that promote collaboration and create bonds between colleagues.

The compulsive controlling boss

Few people receive the guidance it takes to be a good boss, and most are insecure about their own skills. Accepting it can help you feel less frustrated. You cannot change your boss, nor openly rebel, but you have more power than you think to reverse the situation and benefit from it by developing your leadership.

Boss’s favorite

Sometimes being the boss’s favorite is a fair thing to do, but what happens when a normal employee is given favored treatment? In this case, it is necessary to build your own relationship, investing time to get to know your boss and manage to create a positive impression on him without arousing anger in your colleagues. Learn how to do it.

The boss disenchanted with his job

There are different causes that can cause this situation in your boss. However, it is possible to take advantage of it and see it as an opportunity to support you in those tasks that are more complicated and that can compensate for your shortcomings, building constructive working relationships with your colleagues while cultivating your external relationships in other companies.

Challenges in the power relationship with your peers

In all companies there is that competitive partner, harasser, or “thief” of other people’s merit. You will have to deal with them, but using a strategy that will help you to prevent situations from worsening and becoming harmful, even if you can obtain a positive return.

The extremely competitive companion

People become overly competitive for two reasons: they feel they must fight for limited resources, or they see others as a threat. This rivalry can destroy any career if we do not know how to deal with it and prevent it from being harmful.

The intimidating partner

This fact can jeopardize your mental stability and your emotional health, and of course, your performance at work. Taking into account the intentions that motivate the harassment, making small concessions, standing up firmly and learning to say no are some of the strategies that are developed in this section and that will help you change that dynamic.

In 2010 the Workplace Bullying Institute study showed that 35% of Americans had experienced bullying in their workplace.


If you think you’re out of the “select” group who are continually praised and assigned the most relevant projects, learn to work with them and create your own alliances that help you build a strong and successful working relationship.

The thief of other people’s merit

How are you going to progress if no one recognizes your work? Provide a solution before it happens and learn to handle the situation in the event that someone, including your boss, takes credit for your work consciously or inadvertently.

Dealing with a disgruntled former colleague

It may be that an old colleague has a hard time accepting a change in your hierarchy. In these cases, it is usually difficult to empathize with him. So, you are challenged to restore balance as soon as possible. Readjusting and revising your own expectations, speaking up from the beginning, managing to redirect negativity and involving your boss are some of the tips that will help you solve the situation.

Karen DillonKaren Dillon She is a New York Times bestselling author. How Will You Measure Your Life?, and the Wall Street Journal Competing Against Luck: the Story of Innovation and Customer Choice, as well as a contributing editor to the Harvard Business Review . Expert in leadership, talent development and self-management, in 2011 Ashoka , the international reference organization in the field of social entrepreneurship, named her one of the most influential and inspiring women in the world. He has published with REM the book “Guide to Office Politics”

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