Political Conversations at Work & How to Handle It

It’s hard to believe, but the election is right around the corner again and this is sure to be a hot topic in the office. It will steadily increase in coverage on the news, the Internet, and in retail stores.

With one of the more volatile political environments in many years, it will likely be a conversation that can’t be avoided. However, there are many ways to handle the topic. Here’s how:

1.    Know your Audience

Make sure you know the company’s written and unwritten policies regarding talking about politics in the workplace. Many companies have written policies regarding what is appropriate and inappropriate for work.

You should also be aware of who you are talking to before you engage in conversation like this. Try to shy away from political conversations with your employer or direct supervisor. You never know how they will perceive you after learning your political beliefs.

2.    Know your Facts

It should go without saying, but before you engage in conversation, know what you’re saying. Nothing is more embarrassing than talking about something you don’t know anything about. If you don’t know something, that’s ok. Simply, excuse yourself and say that you’ll have to do your homework on the subject because you’re not up-to-date. You can continue the conversation the following day.

3.    Always Show Respect

Always be thoughtful with what you say and how you say it. You don’t want to offend anyone, especially the people you work with.

Every political conversation has two sides. Take time to listen to what you co-worker has to say on the subject and show appreciation for their opinion. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and that should be respected.

This also includes respecting yourself. If you feel uncomfortable talking about the subject, excuse yourself or change the subject. You don’t have to participate in the conversation.

4.    Avoid Outbursts

Leave the passionate statements to the presidential candidates and keep emotionally-driven statements out of the conversation. Simply, discuss facts, not feelings. This way, you’ll stay away from awkward encounters when someone disagrees with you.

Know when to back down from the discussion and make sure you’re reading body language to keep your comments and tone in check.

5.    Find Common Ground

You want to keep a healthy relationship with your colleagues, so make sure, if you disagree, that you can find a value or issue that you agree on. This will keep the peace between you and your colleague.

6.    Or, Agree to Disagree

Another option to keep the peace is by agreeing to disagree. You won’t always agree or find common ground with your colleagues, so you will just have to agree to disagree. Remember: we all come from different backgrounds and values, you won’t always agree with what others have to say.

7.    It’s Not Personal

Just remember that it’s not a personal conversation. It’s just politics. While there are so many political issues that are of personal interest, keep personal discussions out of political talk.

8.    Remember: you’re on the same side!

At the end of the day, you’re all working for the same goal. Don’t let political conversations interfere with your productivity and work relationships. You don’t want good-hearted discussions to negatively the workplace.

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