Workplace Trends

The Office Is No Place for Politics

By James Greenway on September 10, 2012

As the election season heats up, so do opinions in the workplace. And given the particularly contentious debates being held this year, many are feeling a bit prickly. While employee handbooks may not limit political discourse in the office, common sense should.

Arguments and disagreements in the office can make co-workers – even those not involved in the conversation – uncomfortable. And this discomfort can have a divisive effect – creating hostile factions, eroding team-building efforts and impeding productivity. Here are some tips for navigating the challenging twists and turns of political discussions in the office:

  • Respect diversity. Don’t assume others agree with your point of view. Although some people socialize exclusively with others who share their general world view, it’s important to keep in mind that the workplace is a rich tapestry of differing cultures, beliefs and opinions.
  • Stay away from “hot-button” social issues. Most of these topics ignite passionate emotions that are firmly rooted in people’s values, background and religious beliefs. Opinions won’t be changed in the break room, so avoid the confrontation. If discussions heat up, try injecting humor or changing the subject.
  • Remember why you’re in the office. You have a job to do and political disagreements and tangential arguments are distracting and counter productive.  Avoid alienating co-workers by keeping political posters, pins, bumper stickers, etc. out of the office.

If you’re a political junkie with a great desire to advocate for a candidate, harness that enthusiasm by volunteering to campaign for your candidate within your local community – not in the office.

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