The Uncomfortable Lessons I Learned Playing Office Politics

I vowed to never be at the mercy of bullies again. Then I joined the corporate space.

Published in
5 min readJan 25, 2022


Photo: Yan Krukov/Pexels

As a kid, I was bullied. It sucked.

It was an unfortunate and emotionally draining experience that still affects how I approach social interactions. Naturally, I made a vow to never be at the mercy of bullies again. And I was doing great.

That is until I joined the corporate space.

It turns out you can unintentionally become a workplace bully. You see, the unspoken but highly coveted and touted skill beyond hard work is playing Office Politics.

Modern literature and networking experts extol the virtues of playing this game to build solid and valuable relationships. They go as far as insinuating that your career advancement hinges on your ability to do so. With facts to back their claims, most people and I believe them.

To make any sort of career progression, I knew that I had to align myself to the person with significant influence within the organization. In this case, that person was my manager.

My strategy? Hard work and relationship building without the awkwardness of ass-kissing.

I worked my butt off while establishing an organic relationship with my manager and coworkers.

It worked. I got along with most of them. She noticed my hard work and my results and wanted me on her team. Most importantly, we worked well together, and I admired how she stood up to HR and customers on behalf of her employees. She also offered to help me with my career progression. I thought I’d won the lottery ticket on amazing managers.

Our relationship progressed to after-work hang-out sessions. All was good until it wasn’t.

It was in these sessions that I began to notice the warning signs.

Employee Isolation

On one of our after-work hang-out sessions, 3 red flags stuck out to me. All but one employee was present. The absent employee was talked about in an unflattering manner, and finally, my manager said I was part of their ‘squad’ now.



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