Part 3: How To Play and Win!
What does it mean to win? We touched on it briefly in part 1 but I want to go a little deeper here and define what it means to win for people who play politics and for people who want to have a positive impact on their environment.
Politicking People Play to WIN = What I Need
Positive People Play to WIN = Will Invest Now
The difference is in the “I” isn’t it?
Positive People Win In A Healthy Way
If you haven’t read “How to Play Church Politics & Win Part 1” it would be best to read it now. Remember, you are playing the game with different rules and different equipment. You are bringing a football to a baseball game, a baseball to a basketball game and a basketball to a football game.
If you bring a football to a baseball game you are definitely going to get a few looks and most likely a few comments so take these three thoughts with you on your way to the game. With that in mind there are three reminders for each of us should we choose to Invest in the game.
1. Be Aware
It’s not always possible to change the system or culture. In fact, it may not be up to you at all. Your ability to “read the room” can be key to healthy conversation and a healthy outcome. After you read the room you may often find yourself with three options.
- Be Silent: Know how to listen by watching. Listening doesn’t always happen with your ears. Observation is a form of listening and involves more than just what you hear.
- Be Authentic: Know when to speak, where to speak and with whom to speak.
- Be Willing: Know the difference between willing and wanting. There is a difference between the phrases “I am Willing to be heard” and “I Want to to be heard.” The former has it’s root in the Holy Spirit, the later in selfishness. Be willing, not wanting.
2. Be Prepared
- Realize you are playing their game. Their rules, their turf, their agenda. You are bringing something new, something healthy to the game.
- Respect each individual playing the game. Don’t walk into the game looking to overturn the board. See each person for who they are. A person created in the image of God so treat them with honor, value and respect.
- Respond with awareness and kindness. When things get a little tough, perhaps heated respond with kindness and love. You are not trying to change “them” you are simply letting them know what their game is and you are not going to play it in an unhealthy way.
3. Be Strategic
Every game has a strategy and playing the game of office politics is no different. Remember, others playing the game are playing by their rules and for their outcome. You are changing the rules and potential outcome, but they don’t know it.
Politics involve tactics and those you are playing with have most likely been playing for a while. They are strategic so you must be strategic as well. Think tactically. If you don’t you will loose and loose quickly.
3 Strategic Communication Reminders
One: Communicate To Understand Not To Win
First step strategic is listening to understand. People who politic are often very good communicators. Occasionally using words no one understands or being extremely vague while speaking (talking but saying nothing). When this happens ask the question everyone else wants to ask, but is afraid to.
Some ways you can communicate this are…
“…Can you elaborate on what you just said?”
“…Would you please tell me more?”
“…I’m sorry, I didn’t understand what you just said, can you please repeat it?”
“…What I heard you say was (tell them what you just heard) Is that correct?
Two: Communicate With A Wise Mind Not An Emotional Mind
A wise mind is a blend of the Emotional, Rational & Spiritual you. Occasionally, when we don’t get our way, we can swing out of balance to Emotional Dysregulation (Fancy words for loosing it emotionally.) If we find ourselves starting to drift into a emotional mind when the situation calls for balance you can simply remove yourself for a moment, splash some cold water in your face and return to the meeting in wise mind. It’s ok to put yourself in time out.
Three: Communicate With Facts Not With Judgements
Occasionally we interject our own opinions or judgements into the game of politics but when we do that we are operating like the others playing the game. We want to play to win not with selfishness but humility. Interjecting unfair judgements into the conversation, just because someone else does, is not helpful or productive.
Here is a simple difference between a fact and a judgement.
Fact: “Hey Tom, That’s a blue shirt you are wearing.”
Judgement: “Hey Tom, That blue shirt looks terrible on you.”
As I’m sure you can see, communication is key to playing church politics to win in a healthy way.
Here’s a question for you. Which one of the “3 Strategic Reminders” of communication is the most challenging for you and why?
Photo Credit: photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/billselak/1161880994/">Bill Selak</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/">cc</a>