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Blog: Three Tips to Navigate the Social and Political Terrain at Work

Thursday, May 18, 2017   (0 Comments)
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By Alelie Ocampo

Monica Foley’s mini-workshop at the Ascend Fall Conference last October made a big impression on me. Her introduction to “emotional intelligence” and “political savviness” was forever embedded in mind. I gained a new perspective of workplace relations and was conscious of my everyday social interactions. It’s these kinds of Ascend Canada workshops that I appreciate for career development and networking.

For this event, I jumped at the opportunity to learn from Monica Foley (Senior Associate Consultant with Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge) all-over again.

First, a primer: emotional intelligence (EQ) is often cited as an indicator or differentiator of future success. It’s a set of emotional and social skills that influence the way we perceive and express ourselves, develop and maintain social relationships, cope with challenges, and use emotional information in an effective and meaningful way. 

Here are my three takeaways that you can reflect upon as you navigate the social and political terrain at work:

  • People Skills

Emotional intelligence requires two perspectives:
You as an individual – Self-awareness and self-management
You amongst others – Social awareness and social skills

Consider the quality of your people skills in how you communicate and work with other people – is there a mutual understanding?

  • Political Acumen

Within our workplace, there are political forces that structure our relations and interactions. Underneath the everyday conversations with our trusted colleagues, we are constantly building a network of alliances that support our organizational interests.

When you reflect upon your influence and leadership, are you conscious of the alliances that you’re building? Do these networks contribute to the alignment of your self-interests with your organizational interests
?

  • Cell phone management

In the workplace, emotional intelligence and political savviness work together. This means that the awareness and management of our people skills are being practiced, along with our organizational awareness of who holds power and who has influence. In this environment, our cell phone prevents us from practicing both people and social skills. As we carry it around like a comfort blanket and keep it face-up within quick reach, we allow ourselves to be distracted and disengaged from the people around us.

When you overly-depend on your phone for communication and social purposes, do you realize that your phone acts as a barrier to others around you?

With these perspectives in mind, the value of creating a strategic network of alliances speaks louder volumes to visible minorities in the workplace. Given the under-representation of visible minority leaders, it is crucial for our community to connect with others who understand the diversity of our perspectives and are willing to support our voices. This is why professional networking groups, like Ascend Canada, are vital to the leadership development of visible minorities.


about Ascend

Ascend was started to address the shortage of Asian leaders in Corporate America and is broadening its reach into Canada. Ascend Canada is launching in Toronto in 2011 with plans to expand into other major Canadian cities in the future.
Vision: To have a diverse and inclusive Canada where pan-Asian talent can achieve its full potential.
Mission: Partner and progress with Canadian Organizations to develop and advance pan-Asian talent.

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