Office Politics Suck

With me, you will always know where you stand. I promise you.

I wear these damn emotions on my sleeve.

If I am upset with you, I will say to you that I am mad. If I am happy with you, you will get a lot of interaction.

Heck, I’m friendly to

everyone, (unless I am mad at them) even strangers, because I’m a totally unsuspecting person who never believes anyone would really ever have bad intentions. So until someone proves me wrong about their intentions, or makes me feel weirded out, I am just freaking nice.

I have friends at work. I have a circle of friends here, and I think most HR people do, even though we are told we shouldn’t (so most of us will never admit it). And even though my husband disagrees with me about these people being genuine friends, and he tells me that people just like me because they are sucking up to me, I truly know that I have made some actual real and lasting friendships while working here these past seven years.

At least I thought I had made some real and lasting friendships.

It kills me to say this, but my husband was correct, at least to some degree. I’ve only just now figured out that someone, who I considered my friend, was only my friend so I would make decisions in his favor. He is the master of office politics, and everyone seemed to have known this about him. Everyone but me.

I’ve been naive, folks.

Super naive.

And it hurts.

I hate feeling guarded like this. I am questioning all of my work friendships. Is anyone really HR’s friend?

Has this ever happened to you? If so, how did you deal with this person going forward? Do you work in a place that has problems with office politics?

FOT Background Check

Meredith Soleau
Meredith Soleau was supposed to be a famous country singer, but her parents made her go to college and major in something “real.” She graduated with a B.S. in Business from the University of Toledo, and landed a gig as a Human Resources Director at a large car dealership in Ohio. After eight years of HR at a car dealership, she burned out, decided to sell cars herself, and has since launched her agency, where she specializes in finding blue-collar workers. Clearly she has plenty of stories. But the best stories are probably about Meredith, herself. Read them on her personal blog,, where she holds nothing back. Follow Meredith on Twitter. Become her friend on Facebook. Connect with her on LinkedIn.


  1. Jay Kuhns says:

    Great piece Meredith. Sadly, this is the reason I never connect (other than twice) with people I work with and move the relationship to true “friend” status. Fortunately it worked out well in both circumstances.

  2. KD says:

    agree with Jay.

    It’s not show friends, it’s show business (Bob Sugar)….


  3. Dawna Blackburn says: has happened to me. More than once. And I learned the hard way for the most part, you can only have “professional” friends when you work in HR. Even ‘real’ friends will end up asking for something at sometime but will understand when you say you can’t…or work with you when you say I can’t do that but we can do this.
    I currently do not work where the office politics are bad (most offices have them but to varying degrees). People who are ambitious and don’t care about others will use every opportunity to show they are amazing (by comparison 🙂 if you get my meaning).
    As far as next steps, continue to cautiously build the relationships that are worth building. Don’t trust the person who betrayed your trust but figure out ways you can use him (if you can stomach it). If he is doing it to you, he is doing it to others.

  4. Ed Baldwin says:

    I guess I’ve historically played the role of the occasional HR sucker, just like Meredith. My opinion, the pros of building deeper office relationships with your co-workers far outweighs the cons of the otherwise typical, shallow “arms length only” relationships most HR professionals build and feel they must utilize.

    I can’t go through my professional day wondering whether someone will take advantage of the relationship they have with me. It’s my job to make sure that when it comes to my HR role that I maintain impartiality, and put those personal friendships aside. If you can’t do that then I’m not certain you should be in HR. And if the colleagues who you consider friends at work can’t draw that distinction either, then I’m not sure you should be hanging out with them, in or out of the office.

    Thanks for putting yourself out there Meredith, and keep forging those relationships.

  5. Kathy Cox says:

    I’m also embroiled in a similar situation at work. I will give everyone the benefit of the doubt (my significant other also feels that I get laughed at often behind my back and that I’m continually being set up for ridicule because of it). I also prefer to have a friendly working relationship with my Co-Workers – even if I don’t necessarily want to socialize with them after work. As part of a conversation with one of those Co-Workers, I shared some frustrations that I had with another co-worker related to the priority that she sets for the tasks on a process that we both work on. Before sharing my concerns of how this also affected other areas of the business, I asked for confidentiality – mostly because I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to change the priorities of my co-worker and I just needed to vent. Long story short, I’m now the bad guy (girl??) because I’m criticizing others and not being a team player. And to make it worse, any creditability that I had built up as being strategic is also shot. So now, I just stay in my office and stop trying to connect – which isn’t good, either, but I don’t know if I can stand to get burned again.

    I’m sure ultimately (once the hurt fades), I’ll put forth the effort again. Doing anything else will fundamentally change the way that we do HR, and that result isn’t acceptable either.

  6. Shannon says:

    I can’t do it. I simply can’t help but connect to people on a personal level.

    But, I can separate my friendships from business. I just tell the folks I become friends with, Hey, look. There may come a time where I have to participate in firing you. Just because it’s my job, doesn’t mean I enjoy it. My experience has been that those that are truly my friends have no issues with that.

    Most of us got into HR because we like people. Just because we are now in HR doesn’t mean we have to stop.

    The only bad thing, is that being in HR means that we can’t vent to anyone else, yet our door always has to be open to others for venting….but for me, that’s a small price to pay for feeling like you truly impact others’ lives.

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