Most of us say we hate politics, especially when we currently have a presidential election cycle that will stretch nearly two years before it comes to its mind-numbing conclusion. How much dark comedy can one nation stand?
But why do we hate politics? After all, politics is just the formal and informal way things get done in any group of people. And like them or loathe them, we ignore them at our peril.
I think we tend to be uncomfortable with politics because they involve relationships with people. Humans can be tricky creatures. And no matter how much we say “it’s not personal” (usually to make ourselves feel better about stepping on someone else), most of us take politics and their implications very personally. After all, my job, my pet project, my budget, my promotion – these all have a very personal possessive pronoun sitting in front of them.
Maybe that’s part of the solution. Maybe we can step back from the project, the budget, even the promotion and say, “OK, it’s not mine. It belongs to all of us and I need to find a way, with these other quirky humans, to come to an agreement about what to do with it.” This takes some even deeper soul work of saying to ourselves, “I’ll be OK even if this doesn’t go my way. My life doesn’t hinge on this decision.”
Not to be Pollyanna here, because when it comes to your job or your compensation, it’s going to feel personal no matter what you tell yourself.
Regardless, as I watch senior leaders grapple with this issue, I almost always see them break through the frustration with politics when they realize that the other(s) involved in the situation have hopes, dreams, and goals – just like themselves – and when they get on with understanding those agendas instead of railing about them. When they look at how they can get the other parties what they want too instead of focusing on themselves, politics goes from an irritant to just what it is – fallible people trying to get stuff done.
What do you do to make politics a positive?