If you have been in the working world for sometime or have dealt with enough people you will learn very quickly that people like to play games. We are not talking about chess or checkers but about those games that are more political and self-seeking in nature. The games are one of the primary reasons why people choose to leave a company or find new friends. If you want to know how to counter the damaging effects of game playing you will have to know why people play games in the first place.
It should be understood that you won’t ever get someone to stop playing games so don’t even bother trying. Sometimes it makes no sense to confront the person because then you are adding more fuel to the fire. It is better to know how to finesse the game to your advantage without anyone being any bit the wiser.
People play games for a variety of reasons. Most of these reasons revolve around self-seeking opportunities. People are motivated to play games because they want to feel important, trying to gain friendship (political leverage), want to punish people who have hurt them, or are seeking resources. Game playing is all about helping or damaging people who can get them what they want.
Let us say that you are talking to your boss about an important project. You find out that someone said something bad things about your last project. You know this isn’t true. What frustrates you is that you know who was talking about your project but don’t understand why they don’t like you. Even worse this person is smart enough not to lie but only twist the truth. You want to know how to play the game.
Know the Person’s Motivation:
Before you can figure out how to counteract the damaging affects of someone else’s behavior you have to know what their motivation is. For example, in the above case the person may be damaging your credibility because they want the project, they want to feel important or in retaliation for something you have done against them.
Think about what would be the person’s primary motivation. If you embarrassed them in a meeting a few months ago it is likely they are bad mouthing you because they want to damage your credibility but are too afraid to talk to you directly. If they are direct competitor for the project you want there is a possibility that by damaging the perception of your abilities they can get the project. Know what they want.
Know How to Counter the Game:
People’s first reaction is to retaliate. This might make you feel good in the beginning but it will limit your ability to maneuver in the long run. Therefore be smart before you make a decision to act. If you determine that the person was damaging your perception with your boss because they want the project then try and include them if you are awarded it. Say something like, “I was thinking about the project. If our boss gives it to me I was wondering if you would help me with this particular section? The next time I talk to him I want to run the idea bye him because I think you are really good at that stuff”.
You might assume that this will help the boss to reward it to the other person but this isn’t the case. If you are trying to include them your boss might assume the other person was out to get you. Future complaints from that person will be taken with “a grain of salt”. You will look like you are rational, mature and able to draw people into a team type project. You will get the majority of the credit. Since the other person gets some credit as well they might just talk a little more positively about you so that they can keep being included in the future.