Can You Manage At Work Without Politics?

The answer to that question is, probably not.  Wherever people come together seeking goals – whether the same or different ones – and especially where there is competition for scarce resources, politics is there.  Political arenas run along a continuum from minimally to highly and even pathologically political.  The character of the arena in which you work dictates the extent to which political acumen becomes a necessity.


As I described in the first of a Harvard Business Review blog series on politics posted this week, the political landscape where most of us work shifts over time.  While it may be possible to remain a political purist (at least for a while) in some jobs in certain organizations, it is risky to wait around until politics reaches a point beyond your expertise.

The more effective route is to prepare for politics. Keep in mind that not all forms of politics are devious or underhanded.  Some political skills are actually no more than good people skills, like interpersonal sensitivity: knowing when to bring up which topics, when to push for something you believe is important, managing conflict to avoid unnecessary flare-ups, and causing others to feel good about working with you.

Additional, relatively basic and constructive forms of political know-how include:

-       Creating a positive impression - assuring that key people find you and your ideas interesting.

-       Positioning – being in the right place at the right time.

-       Cultivating mentors – locating experienced advisors.

-       Lining up your ducks – making sure any idea you advance has support from the right people.

-       Developing a favor bank – doing for others, not only because you want to, but so that someday when you need to call in a chit, you will have the “currency” to do so.

Why, you might ask yourself, should I spend my valuable time managing politics instead of doing my job?  The truth is that understanding politics is required to do your job in most of today’s organizations. 

Why not start by assessing how things get done -- by whom and in what ways -- where you work?  Seek guidance if it’s available from people who are adept at managing politics.  Become a student of politics.  Learn, for example, to detect disconnects between what is said and what is done, between what is requested and what is rewarded.  In most organizations, there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye.  It never pays to be the last one to know.

Photo: ulegundo/Shutterstock.com

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)
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In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.


Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
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