Bully at Work Moody Boss Karma Office Gossip No Picnic Back stabber Plug your Ears Moody Boss

Feeling Paranoid About Office Politics?


Does being paranoid about office politics make you a target?

Tell us what you think for a chance to win the Dear Office-Politics game book

Uh oh! Have you intuitively felt that complaining that other people didn’t like you would only attract more attacks? Now a study by the UBC Sauder School of Business (summary below) confirms our fears. The bottom-line? Taking the high road by being nice to everyone is the best strategy and will win you more support and loyalty.

People who worry about workplace rejection or sabotage can end up bringing it upon themselves, according to University of British Columbia research.

The UBC Sauder School of Business study reveals that paranoia about negative gossip or being snubbed leads people to seek out information to confirm their fears, ultimately annoying colleague and increasing the likelihood they will be rejected or subverted.
Ignore Impulses

“It may be best to ignore impulses that tell you that you’re the victim of office politics,” says lead author and Sauder Prof. Karl Aquino, whose study was recently published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

Prof. Aquino explains that it’s natural for people to wonder how others view them, especially when social acceptance in the workplace is often rewarded with power and financial compensation.

“However, our research shows employees should do their best to keep their interactions positive and ignore the negative. As the expression goes, kill them with kindness.”

Don’t try this at the office!

In one of the study’s experiments, the researchers discovered that people who more readily interpret interactions with others as negative are also more likely to try to root it out through such means such as eavesdropping or spying.

Another experiment showed that individuals who reported wanting information about unfair treatment within a group were more likely to have angered their group members and be the focus of rejection.

A third experiment measured study participants’ comfort level with a co-worker who is worried about unfair treatment as compared to other types of employees. Rather than be saddled with a worrywart, participants were 3.5 times more likely to choose individuals who demanded feedback on work quality. Participants were 16.5 times more likely to prefer working with others keen to get information on work group dynamics as a whole. [Read the full UBC report]

Tell us what you think!
Do you agree that being paranoid about office politics will make you a target?
Leave your comment for a chance to win. (You can be anonymous but please leave a valid email.) The best comment wins a copy of Dear Office-Politics, the game everyone plays!

[cardoza_wp_poll id=1]

The winning comment will be selected by www.OfficePolitics.com. You can be anonymous but please leave a valid email so you can be contacted for your mailing address. Contest closes August 31, 2012. Contest open to residents of the United States and Canada (excluding Quebec). OfficePolitics.com reserves the right to not award a book if no comment is judged to be worthy.

UBC media release
Read the full UBC report

Related post: Linda Kaplan Thaler on The Power of Nice


  1. One Answer to “Feeling Paranoid About Office Politics?”

  2. Beware of Self Fulfilling Prophecy!

    By Yanira Greener on Aug 5, 2012

What's your advice?

(You can also tweet it to @dearOP)