"Survivor" Tactics Resemble Office Politics

You are surrounded by manipulators, glory-seekers, people weighing the costs and benefits of their actions, and folks trying to decide when to be a good neighbor, and when to cheat

Is this the latest episode of “Survivor” or just another day at the office?

The premise of “Survivor” is simple: one by one, 16 men and women vote their fellow contestants off the island. The last one still there wins a million bucks. The Machiavellan-inspired motto: “Outwit, Outplay, Outlast.”

Perhaps one of the reasons the show is so popular is because the rules of the game in the reality TV show are not so different from office politics.


The best way is to avoid getting into office skirmishes is to go straight to the people who are targeting you and make sure the powers that be know your contributions, career experts say. Know your key rival’s strengths and weaknesses and try to make their shortcomings your strengths.

And the best way to rise above office politics is to do a good job, and align your goals with those of the company. But of course, the dark side of that is that some people will try to take all the credit, or unfairly cut his or her colleagues off at the pass in order to sprint ahead.

“If you were laying there dying of thirst, I’d let vultures take you,” Survivor Susan told her former friend Kelly in the show’s final episode.

Not nice. But sitting in your cubicle quietly won’t keep you above the fray either The loudest tend to get noticed more, so it is best to stand up and be counted, experts advise.

Given that, how would last season’s winning survivor, Richard Hatch, do in corporate survival? Though he won points for his fishing skills, the American public had a strong dislike for Hatch’s cold-blooded instincts, which sharpened as the island population shrank.

But experts gave him credit as an expert people handler, who in an office setting could probably play his colleagues like a violin.