“The heaviest penalty for declining to rule is to be ruled by someone inferior to yourself.” -Plato
The biggest complaint I hear about the corporate world is that “corporates are full of politics”. But the truth is that politics is everywhere. If there are more than two people involved, there is scope for politics. It starts from the level of your family and goes all the way up to the international level. Why then do we crib only about workplace or corporate politics? I think the biggest reason for this is that we idealize the corporate world. The expectation is that we will be rewarded purely on merit and hard work. But this will never happen. Period. It is up to you to make your peace with this.
This is a good point to define what politics means in the corporate context. One of the definitions for politics in the Oxford Dictionary of English (OUP, 2010) is “activities aimed at improving someone’s status or increasing power within an organization”. I think this fits our understanding of workplace politics well. Now depending upon your own value system, you can project the activity in question as good or bad. But remember that this is all relative.
Politicking, or playing politics is an art and not a simple skill you can learn from a book. That’s why not everyone will be good at it. Most people will claim to dislike it but will indirectly engage in it when the need arises and give a different name to it. I suggest you overcome your aversion for it and learn to get better at it. At the very least, you should know how to avoid becoming a pawn in someone else’s dame. But some people are pure souls and they really can’t get themselves to do it. Others are savvy politicians and actually love it. Most often, most people will do it when they see the need for it.
So the bottom line is that you should expect politics as a normal part of the game, and not become emotional about it.