With elections coming up this week, the topic of politics is likely to come up in the office. This poses a challenging question — how do you discuss such a controversial topic in your workplace? What’s the line between being opinionated and being just flat out inappropriate? These are critical points to consider, especially during this election, as Americans seem to be more divided than ever. Here are some tips to express your views in a professional manner!
Play Nice: A certain amount of debate is healthy in the workplace, as it exposes you to a variety of opinions and perspectives; but it is important not to take it too far. If you see that your colleague is getting frustrated when discussing a particular topic you disagree on, try to tread lightly or end the conversation by agreeing to disagree. If you find that you’re the one getting worked up, change the subject, or politely exit the conversation. Also, try not to let someone’s political views change the way you perceive them. Remember, you’re at work, and you need to maintain a professional relationship with your co-workers — this will be much harder if you’re holding a grudge because of your differing political opinions.
Discuss Less Controversial Topics: Although you and other fellow employees are sure to have conflicting opinions on a wide variety of topics, perhaps focus on the subjects that are less controversial. For example, you most likely won’t hear heated debates regarding which flavor at Baskin Robbins is truly the best, whereas you might with extremely contentious social subjects. By focusing on subjects that people tend to be less passionate about, you allow for a more open discussion between you and coworkers, while reducing the probability of someone getting upset.
You Interact with Your Coworkers Outside of Work: You may think it’s safe to openly express your opinions outside of the office, but you need to be mindful of who can see or hear what you’re saying! For example, writing a politically-charged comment on your Facebook wall or at happy hour—even if it’s funny—can easily offend someone, and tarnish the reputation you’ve built for yourself in the workplace.
Keep an Open Mind: Lastly, keep an open mind. Even if you are a diehard liberal or conservative, listening to what others have to say will open your mind to a wide variety of perspectives. Doing this may also allow you to learn more about topics that you didn’t have much knowledge about before. And who knows? Maybe someone will say something that makes you reconsider your own beliefs! Remember, if we all had the same, uniform perspectives, life would be much less colorful!
We hope that you take these points into consideration when discussing the controversial topic of politics in your own workplace. And remember… no matter what side you’re on, the most important thing is to get out and vote!