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Office Politics

1. A memorandum is written not to inform the reader but to protect the writer.

Anonymous. Wall Street Journal (September 8, 1977)


2. Whenever I ask individuals…what leads them to play political games in organizations, they respond that that’s human nature and the nature of organizations. We are the carriers of defensive routines, and organiations are the hosts.

Chris Argyris (b.1923) U.S. academic and organizational behavior theorist. Strategy, Change and Defensive Routines (1985)


3. To be honest with you, if I’d known the sour look I was going to get from the head of our department I wouldn’t have gone to the office at all.

Nikolay Gogol (1809-52) Russian novelist and playwright. Diary of a Madman (1835)


4. Men are troublesome. They complain about trifles a woman wouldn’t notice. The office boys…complain that the temperature of the building is too hot or too cold…If they have a slight headache, they stay at home.

Clara Lanza (1859-1939) U.S. journalist. “Women Clerks in New York,” Cosmopolitan (1891)


5. there are but two means of locomotion to the top. Either people must like you so much that they push you there, or you, yourself, are so good that you push yourself there.

Gerald Sparrow (1903-88) British business executive and writer. How to Become a Millionaire (1960), ch. 2


6. You can play too much at corporate politics. Just say, “I may lose my job, but I will try to do the best I can.”

Dennis Stevenson (b.1946) British company director. Management Today (April 1999)