Many of us enjoy spending time in the break room or hallway and discussing important events in our lives with our co-workers. Sometimes the conversation may turn to the state of the economy and the world in general, which means you may be mentioning your political beliefs.
Politics are bound to come up in the workplace. For the most part, it is OK to talk about your political values with your co-workers, but you need to do it in a respectful manner. What can you talk about and what should you avoid discussing? It can be tricky. Here are some dos and don’ts for politics in the workplace.
What to Do
- Know the rules. Many companies prohibit political campaigns in the office. This may include wearing political clothing and displaying political signs. Know your company’s rules before you bring anything into the office.
- Play nice. Do not be combative about politics. Instead, be friendly with co-workers. Ask for their thoughts or advice, but do not try to coerce them to change parties or vote for someone else. Keep an open mind and keep the discussion light-hearted.
- Know when to walk away. Sometimes things get too heated and the conversation gets tense. When this happens, do not continue to engage. Instead, excuse yourself and end the conversation. You can also keep calm and change the subject. If your co-worker persists, be direct and end the conversation right then and there.
What Not to Do
- Engage in heated issues. Some topics are just too controversial to be discussed at work. While topics such as the environment may be OK for the workplace, some people have strong opinions about abortion and same-sex marriage. Avoid these topics in the workplace.
- Post on social media. Try to keep your political views off social media. Your political views should probably not be on Facebook if you work for a government agency, for example. If a co-worker or manager sees it, it could change their opinion of you and even affect your job. Even if you think it is funny, someone else might not, so tread lightly.
- Demonize and disrespect others. When a co-worker has political views that are different from yours, you may not believe that your co-worker could possibly agree with the other political party. How can they be so crazy? When a person has radically different views, it is best to either find common ground or avoid discussing politics with them altogether. In any case, avoid speaking in a derogatory fashion toward them. Avoid insults and snide comments. If you cannot be nice, then do not engage. Be honest with your co-worker and tell them you would rather discuss something else.
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Politics is a topic that should be avoided in the workplace, but it can be hard to do so during an election year. Make sure you know the rules so you do not get in trouble at work.