If you haven’t watched The Story of Yanxi Palace and think that it’s yet another palace drama full of scheming women trying to find favour with the Emperor, well, you are not wrong. However, one of the reasons why this drama is so popular is because of the main protagonist Wei Yingluo. She’s quick-witted, resilient and never backs down in the face of adversity – and this makes watching her rise from a lowly palace maid to the top of the imperial harem so satisfying.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the palace environment with its colourful cast of characters and copious amount of palace politics has some parallels with a modern-day office environment. If you have just entered the workforce and find it difficult to navigate through office politics, here are six lessons from The Story of Yanxi Palace that we think may help you.
Cultivate good relationships
Throughout Wei Yingluo’s journey to the top, she always knew the importance of working together with other people to achieve her goals. Apart from being willing to work with people she did not get along with to reach their common goal, she also helped others whenever she could so that when she needed their help, they were willing to lend a helping hand. Similarly, establish and maintain good relationships at all levels of the organisation whenever you can; you never know when you might need their help in the future.
Translation: “Do you want to cooperate with me again?”
Do not let others take advantage of you
Being nice is important to maintain good relationships in the workplace, but don’t be the nice guy all the time. It just allows others to exploit your kindness and take you for granted. From the time she entered the palace, Wei Yingluo believed that besides being kind-hearted, one should more importantly learn how to protect themselves. Learn to say “No” appropriately and voice out if someone tries to take credit for your work or shift blame to you unfairly.
Translation: “You should be kind, but you should also learn how to protect yourself.”
Stand up for yourself
Don’t stay silent if someone is trying to create trouble for you at work. If you know that someone is spreading rumours and trying to get people to form a negative impression of you, learn from Wei Yingluo’s spirit and stand up to them before the rumours get out of hand. Though it might be tempting to confront them in front of everyone, be professional and try approaching them discreetly to resolve the issue amicably. Standing up for yourself will also show others that you are not a pushover and let them think twice before trying to create trouble for you again.
Do not be afraid of trouble
Wei Yingluo is someone who will not actively stir up trouble but if others do create problems for her, she is not afraid to tackle the problems head-on. She sees no point in spending her life constantly worrying that she will get into trouble as she believes that there is always a solution to any situation. Office politics might be something that you don’t want to get involved in but constantly being worried and trying to avoid it will also not do you any favours. Stay out of it when it doesn’t concern you but if it does, face the issue squarely and deal with it.
Translation: “If there’s no trouble I won’t create any problems, but if someone creates a problem, I also won’t be afraid of it.”
Learn how to let things go
Don’t waste your time and energy getting upset or indignant at every small issue or person that you think is unfair to you in the workplace. Sometimes, it is better to let things go instead of arguing and defending yourself all the time for the sake of your own well-being. Learn how to deal with such emotions and understand that this is just part and parcel of life. Like Empress Fucha said to Wei Yingluo, “If you keep being bothered over small things, you won’t be able to live happily. Whatever the situation may be, a little compromise can go a long way!”
Translation: “Whatever the situation may be, a little compromise can go a long way.”
Do your work well
Knowing how to navigate office politics will help you, but being good at your work is still the most important thing you should work on. Wei Yingluo stood out wherever she went not just because of her quick wits but also because she was truly competent at her work and constantly learning new skills to upgrade herself. She took her work seriously and fulfilled her job duties diligently no matter how lowly or prestigious her position was. Ultimately, your work ability is still your most valuable asset at the workplace. Focus on improving yourself and the more confidence you have in your work, the more confidence you will have in handling any other problems that may come your way.
Translation: “When you were complaining, she already completed all the work.”
Watch The Story of Yanxi Palace on Hub Drama First, StarHub TV Channel 860, available in Cantonese and Mandarin with English subtitles.
Text: Valerie Toh