Talking Politics at Work – Tread Lightly

With the primary elections well underway, national politics are at the forefront of the news these days. While it may be tempting to talk about politicians and your political beliefs at work, it’s important to consider the consequences and be aware of your ‘water cooler’ etiquette.

If you are lucky enough to work for a company that values diversity, you may find that you are surrounded by differing views. This makes it even more important to keep in mind that you may not know when you are in “like” company or if your words can offend or alienate your co-workers.

Here are some tips:

  • Try to keep your conversation focused on the facts of the issues rather than passing judgment about the politicians or the people who agree with them. Don’t let your emotions get in the way of having a professional conversation with a colleague.
  • If you cannot have a political conversation without becoming emotionally charged you may want to abstain from these conversations altogether.
  • Observe the rules of common courtesy. Every person has their right to their own point of view and every person should be given the opportunity to speak without being interrupted. Calvin Coolidge said it best: “No man ever listened himself out of a job.”
  • Focus on the goals of your team and the organization. While talks about politics are inevitable, do your best to ensure that your discussions are not taking away from teambuilding or the good work you do together.

Over the past few years the political landscape has become more and more polarized. This means the likelihood of you either agreeing or absolutely NOT agreeing is pretty much equal and many people have little to no tolerance for “the other side”. If you do want to discuss politics at work it’s best to make sure you are talking to people who are open to the topic. There is nothing wrong with a lively debate, but be aware that you may alienate people with differing opinions if your conversations tend toward bashing the “other side”.

We’d like to hear from you! Are you talking politics at work or being talked to about politics? How are you handling the situation?

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