Interpersonal Edge: Is an office war worth it?
Monday, May 30, 2016
By Dr. Daneen Skube
Tribune Content Agency
Q. There's a power struggle/war going on in my office that could result in me greatly increasing my salary. I've been fighting this battle along with others on my team, but it is getting really ugly and personal at this point. I'm not sleeping well, worrying about it a lot, and the battle is consuming a lot of my time during the day. How do you determine the battles you fight and the battles you walk away from?
  A. Determine the battles you'll fight by being clear about what you'd give up to avoid the stress of the war. Never fight battles that are about your ego. The win is you get to be right - which is worth nothing. If you know that 20 years from now you'll regret having walked away, join the fight.
  Once you join the conflict, keep in mind the check you'd write to not have to be in the middle of this battle. Sometimes the potential money, success or promotion is not worth the emotional cost you'll pay. Keep an eye on this bottom line during the war, and if you hit the point where the war is costing too much - run, don't walk.
  If you decide to join a power struggle, do everything in your power to attack the problem facing your team and avoid personal attacks. When we're frustrated, it is easy to see the other party as the problem. We then lose a potential ally in solving the actual challenges facing us at work.
  It requires a lot of impulse control not to aim personal attacks at the other side of an office battle. As tempting as vilifying them is, you will lose much in personally criticizing the other people. Most people will fight to the death if you go after their self-esteem. The actual issue becomes a casualty of the personal attacks you made on their ego.
  Look for opportunities during a power struggle to assume the best of the other party in the battle. Even if you sound a little nuts to others, praise the other party, assume positive motives and focus on the other party's good intentions. Even in a war, people will often live up (or down) to your description of them.
  If the other party does get personal, never be foolish enough to fight to the death over an offense to your ego. Being right in office wars is the consolation prize for the emotionally immature, short-sighted and foolish. Being effective is always the prize to aim for in power struggles.
  When you feel strong emotions, step away from the struggle and remind yourself why you are in the conflict. If the cost of being involved is beginning to outstrip the gain of the conflict, walk away. If you fight, re-evaluate and walk away, sometimes you'll see a better opportunity to win at a later date.
  Remember, winning a power struggle is not worth your peace of mind, career or even your job. Your ego will take a licking and keep on ticking, so don't go burning bridges you'll need to cross in the future.
  The last word(s)
  Q. Is anything more important than getting ahead in your job?
  A.  Yes, your relationship with yourself. Never do anything on the job that permanently damages the one relationship from which you cannot escape.
Daneen Skube, Ph.D., executive coach, trainer, therapist and speaker, also appears as the FOX Channel's "Workplace Guru" each Monday morning. She's the author of "Interpersonal Edge: Breakthrough Tools for Talking to Anyone, Anywhere, About Anything" (Hay House, 2006). You can contact Dr. Skube at or 1420 NW Gilman Blvd., #2845, Issaquah, WA 98027. Sorry, no personal replies.
This column was printed in the May 29, 2016 - June 11, 2016 edition.

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