When I first joined as a stenographer in a private firm in my hometown Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh, India) my job was to type out work orders or invoices of the firm. Afternoon 2 hours was sleep time. The first taste of office politics came to me when my boss's son resisted me in me taking a nap and instead use the time to do some other work, which was not relevant to my post.
BEING A young man of 21 years and to gain experience in the job, I adjusted myself to meet their work needs. The situation precipitated further as he started yelling at me that I could not write numerals properly in the cash book and I had to bite the bullet.
My father being in Govt. service by that time counselled me to tolerate as I needed to get experience in the job. As the situation did not improve, I was compelled to quit the job after some months as my boss joined with his son in harassing me. After a brief gap of some months, I joined another firm. This time the pain was of finding no time to prepare for competitive exams to gain a Govt. job. The day used to be jam-packed with office work. My work included typing and accounting. It was a lot of struggle to cope with those trying times. I got on with the job to earn those needy bucks to meet my pocket expenses and offset the burden on parents.
Though the job did not raise any hackles, but for only due to pay hike I joined in another firm. Within a month, they showed me hell. Deliberately, I was put to wait till 9 pm. When asked, my immediate boss who was a senior manager, accounts, tried to convince me that I should win the laurels of the management by sitting late into night even if I don't have any work to do. That concept was against my self respect. I just severed myself from that company and joined back the previous firm. After some months, the bounty of God came in the form of Govt. job as I was selected for the post of stenographer in Central Government.
My first posting was at Udaipur
in Rajasthan. I was handicapped by not speaking Hindi. I arduously followed my dad's advice that I should first create the best first impression before my boss. After seeing my credentials and capability, my boss assigned me Accounts related work also in addition to my stenographer duties. For some months, it was a smooth sail. All of sudden, one day, my boss handed me an order that I should take over the charge of Mess Secretary ( managing our Mess - job is like a hotelier managing / purchasing the provisions/ vegetables and maintaining related accounts). I just flared up with the kind of assignments given to me.
I approached my boss to spare me from such duties as I was new to service and hardly know the Hindi to handle the local people for purchases. After a little struggle, my boss was convinced and he rescinded the order. When I digged around to know who was responsible for advising the boss to assign me such new set of duties, I was shocked that my colleague who was an elderly man and head clerk instigated my boss to assign me such additional duties. I faced his sore acts head on. After grappling with him for certain days, I wrote my own commandments to protect myself from the murky office politics.
The maturity I gained with time put me on a very comfortable place. I drew my Lakshmana Rekha to what extent I should stretch myself in terms of helping others and taking help of others. My advice to neutralize the rival is just be distant from him. You should not be within his firing range. Better not take too many favours from him/ her. Never indulge in financial dealings as they may exploit the situation. In a vicious office atmosphere, people try to figure out your mistakes or weaknesses and you should be conscious enough and act in an unpredictable way.
In fact, there is no straight jacket formula to cope up with office politics. The essentials are, you must be honest enough in your financial dealings. Create confidence in the eye of boss that you are a hard worker. You must be a learner. Don't spoil your relations with subordinates who are the real messengers to handle the courier jobs of your reputation. Help out anybody, within your permissible limits. Don't make empty promises. Don't bank upon too much on colleagues. Too much rubbing shoulders with immediate colleagues who are working in the same premises will create problems and sometimes, they may destabilize your position.
Just meet the boss's requirements. Need not stick labels on your face about all your other talents. Just give according to their needs. In that way you would save your creative energies for your productive use. Instead of campaigning all yours strengths and carry the burden of others' expectations, it is better to shut the mouth and silently immerse in your own personal improvement.
One last advice is : Read the book : "Art of War", by Sun Tzu, the 5th century Chinese military general". This is a great book which used to be under the pillow of Anil Ambani
when he locked horns with his estranged brother Mukesh Ambandi. This book is such a fantastic thesis that it gives a mountain of wisdom to harness human relations and most importantly how to deal with your enemies, simply not in combat fields but in real life social situations also.