Co-workers may talk behind your back -- or try to stab you in it -- but you don't have to play their games. Ignoring rumors and office games is the best defense, but there are ways to cope with gossipy co-workers and workplace politic when avoidance no longer works.
The first rule of surviving office politics is to not play them. Build a reputation among your co-workers as someone who does not get involved in boss-bashing sessions or gossip. Be true to your word and do what you say you will do. If you make a mistake, own up to it. Above all, stay as far as possible from negative co-workers who complain and badmouth others. People will soon get the message that you don't play games.
Being nice to your co-workers does more than simply make the day more pleasant, it helps others think well of you in return. This is a huge asset if you find yourself roped into a situation in which you need to choose a side because others will most likely see your choice as well-reasoned and non-political. Greet your co-workers, be pleasant to everyone, and you may just get the benefit of the doubt when you need it most .
Build Strong Relationships
Whatever your goals at work, you will need the help of others to achieve them -- and not just the help of higher-ups. Your colleagues often will have similar goals and can be great supporters. Assistants typically know the quickest, surest ways to get a boss' attention. Build strong professional relationships by inviting others' opinions and insights. Help your co-workers do their jobs better and they are more likely to help you, in return.
Be Aware of Gossip
If someone is gossiping about you at work, you can either ignore him or confront him. If you confront a gossipy co-worker, talk to the person in private -- confronting him in front of others will only get more people talking. State that you believe he is talking about you, but do not engage in why. This usually will stop him from talking behind your back. And, always avoid getting into a gossip war yourself.
If you simply cannot avoid politics in the workplace, or if those politics start threatening your position or department, start writing things down. A written record of dates, incidents and details can build a paper trail that may someday save your job. Also, keep records of your job performance -- tasks, deadlines, accomplishments and any praise from your bosses. Just as in a court of law, written records carry a lot of weight if push ever comes to shove.