As a general rule of thumb, it’s best not to talk politics at work – ever. But sometimes we just can’t resist. This election has proven to be an interesting one, and there are civilized ways to discuss political happenings while on the clock.
As we approach November, check out our tips:
- Know your workplace. Always check HR policies. Even if it is not expressly foreboded, it still may not be appropriate. Maybe it’s your industry, or just your boss, there are places where this kind of conversation isn’t going to end well. It’s best to leave any political propaganda or paraphernalia at home. Remember to keep in mind certain hot button topics may be too personal for some. When in doubt, the conversation can wait.
- Know your audience. Try to keep the conversation amongst peers. And never, ever, ever, ever discuss politics with a client.
- Know that you have a lot to learn from others. Think of these conversations as an opportunity to learn and better understand. Make an effort to understand where the other person is coming from and validate their ideas.
- Know when your tone is too harsh. Don’t say, “Are you kidding me?” Say, “I hadn’t considered that. Can you tell me more about that?”
- Know when to let it go. Political beliefs are personal beliefs. You will likely change no one’s mind with your argument and in the workplace it’s best to concede rather than assert your point. Understand when the conversation has reached its peak. Then consider whether or not making your point will be worth it. A simple smile and “hmmm,” can be all you need to end the conversation and save the office relationship.
- Know that in the end, there are certain things we can agree on. There are topics everyone can agree upon in politics. Explore conflicting ideas, but always seek common ground.
- Know you can opt out. If one colleague is too aggressive or incessant, or the conversation is getting out of hand, politely state that you are no longer comfortable. If the problem persists, reach out to HR.
Politics are both public and private declarations, and during election season it may be hard to avoid the topic. Approach it maturely and civilly, and you may even learn a thing or two about government or your colleagues.