How to Handle Politics at Work in an Appropriate Manner

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July 23, 2018

Politics At Work

Nowadays, it seems as if the subject of politics is everywhere. It is the topic of many conversations and is even mentioned on a daily basis during our favorite radio programs and television shows. However, when it comes to the workplace, it becomes tricky to decide whether it not it is appropriate to discuss this sensitive subject. After all, everyone has different views, and most people take their political views very seriously. It can be offensive when co-workers are voicing personal opinions or talking about issues that others do not wish to hear. So, what is the best way to handle the issue of politics in the workplace? Is it acceptable in some situations, but not in others? Let's take a look at the best way to discuss politics and avoid conflicts with coworkers while at work.

Is It Ok or Not OK to Discuss Politics at Work?

First and foremost, one may wonder whether it is ok or not to discuss politics during work hours. If politics are going to be the topic of conversation, employees must know the proper way to handle it. Take into consideration that people are spending many hours each day with their co-workers. We tend to know certain things about them, such as favorite foods, hobbies, where they live, and stories about their families. Since the subject of politics may eventually come up, it is important to know the do's and don'ts of discussing political views.

Be Aware of the Company Policy

Some companies may have specific guidelines for discussing politics with other employees. For people who wish to engage in these types of discussions, it may be a good idea to check the employee handbook or inquire about any rules regarding the subject. The last thing anyone wants is to have disciplinary action taken against them for starting or participating in a political conversation.

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Don't Get Upset With Others

Keep in mind that everyone is going to have personal viewpoints. Your co-workers may agree with you about some subjects and strongly disagree with others. Never try to persuade someone to change what they believe in or to see things from a different viewpoint. You want to avoid getting upset with anyone. If you are going to discuss politics, keep the tone light and as friendly as possible. 

Make Sure Others Are On Board With The Conversation

One of the best things you can do is make sure the person or group of people that you are having the conversation with are on board with the topic of discussion. If someone is clearly uncomfortable, it may be best to put an end to the discussion.

Avoid Criticizing Other People's Viewpoints

When discussing politics, stick to making as many factual statements as possible. If it is absolutely necessary that you offer an opinion, make it clear that you do not feel that your beliefs are better than anyone else's, or that their opinion does not matter. When it comes to politics, never criticize what any of your co-workers have to say. Listen to their part of the conversation, and when offering your own viewpoints, don't tell the other person that their way of thinking is incorrect.

Be Sure to Keep Calm at All Times

It is quite possible that people will have opinions that you do not agree with. Never get upset or raise your voice when discussing politics in the workplace. It is very easy for political discussions to result in arguments, so know your limits when having a conversation. If you feel that you may start to get upset about a certain issue, or if someone brings up a topic that makes you angry, politely put an end to the conversation.

Don't Use Email to Talk About Politics at Work

If you are discussing politics with coworkers, don't exchange emails regarding the subject. If someone sends you an email that asks for your political opinion or discusses politics in any way, the best thing to do is to verbally inform that person that you don't wish to send emails that talk about politics.

Keep an Open Mind

A work environment can turn hostile very quickly when employees engage in political conversations. You don't want to have tension in the workplace or put yourself in a position that can cause your job performance to suffer. Listen to your coworker's opinions without being judgemental. You need to ensure that when the conversation is over, there will be no resentment among anyone.

Never Pressure Anyone to Talk

Perhaps you ask someone a political question, and they tell you they'd rather not discuss the issue. Respect how they feel, and either end the political conversation or talk about something else. Never pressure anyone to give their opinion regarding an issue, or to answer a question that they are not comfortable with. 

Know the Appropriate Forum

If your company does not prohibit political discussions, it is still important that you know when it is appropriate to talk about this subject. For example, while it may be perfectly acceptable to discuss politics during lunch, it might be best to refrain from continuing the conversation during a department meeting. 

Don't Discuss the Opinions of Others Behind Their Back

Nothing will lead to tension or a hostile work environment faster than talking about someone else's viewpoints behind their back. If you have a conversation with someone, keep it between the people who participated in the discussion. Never engage in a conversation with someone else and use phrases such as "Can you believe what John said?" or "This is unbelievable! Guess who Mary voted for?" 

Always Keep the Conversation Professional

Always keep the conversation as professional as possible. Never use foul language or make any statements that can be offensive to others. It is important to make sure that the conversation remains appropriate at all times. Don't let the conversation get in the way of you or anyone else's productivity.

When discussing politics at work, it is important to take the necessary steps in order to avoid conflict with anyone. Remember that certain issues can be controversial and sensitive. By approaching the subject of politics in the proper way, you can make sure that the conversation is suitable for the workplace. Feel free to contact us regarding any questions or for more information.

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