Even as a leader you can be affected by game playing in the office. It could be a team leader or a boss who is undermining you or taking credit for your work.  If you are the victim of game playing in the office, you may be feeling stressed and distressed. The main thing is to step out of the game. Don’t let a toxic work culture disrupt your life and don’t let it go on for too long. You mustn’t get involved or retaliate as this can damage your career, relationships, and health. 

Here are some ways to deal with game playing at work:

1. Rise above the situation

When you are subject to the game playing of your co-workers or boss, such as veiled criticism, being put down, or being left out of meetings or email conversations, although it’s tempting to expose your colleague or boss in front of others, it means you are taking part in the game playing too. Rising above it all is the best thing you can do.

2. Refrain from sinking to the level of the game players

When your team or co-workers try to sabotage you at work, it’s tempting to respond or get embroiled in an argument or confrontation. But this may backfire as you may come across as petty, and it is unlikely that the person playing games will stop their behaviour. It is better to deal with difficult colleagues by having a courageous conversation. It could be that you need to talk to your manager about someone in your team, or as the boss, you may need to raise the issue in a team meeting or with an individual team member. Raising it calmly in a structured meeting will take the emotion away from the situation. Airing the skeleton in the closet can often release the tension that everyone is feeling and allows people room to resolve the situation. It also gives all the individuals involved time to reflect on their actions.

3. Step out of the game 

Know that this sort of behaviour at work is not personal. Game playing comes from a place of fear. Game players will opt for different strategies based on their inadequacies and feelings of not being good enough. Behave in a way that serves you and your career. Stay in your own lane; the less you focus on the game player, the less impact they can have on you. 

4. Change the work culture from within

Start contributing to changing the work culture by modelling the way you should work and communicate within your team. This will ensure that any bad behaviour in the office is easy to spot and flagged by other members of the team. The best way to bring about a change at work is by praising others, encouraging your team and being empathetic to your co-workers. Make efforts to change the work culture to one of collaboration, honesty, and kindness. Collaborating and communicating effectively will change the energy and dynamic of the team moving forward. This way you will be contributing to a better working environment for everyone at the office. My blog about team dynamics has some good advice on how to deal with a broken team. 

5. Seek support

If the game playing or bullying doesn’t stop, you may need to take it to HR. Bullying should not be tolerated at work or in any environment. External support from a coach or counsellor can help you get some perspective and make decisions about what you want to do next. Sometimes leaving a toxic environment is the best option, particularly if all the attempts you have made to resolve the situation have failed.

If you want some great tips about team building you can download my free guide or if you need some support around a work situation get in touch for a complimentary chat to see if coaching is a good fit for you by emailing hello@jocowlin.com

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