Everyone has opinions — especially during an election year. Pushing your political beliefs on your co-workers can be a problem. In fact, workplace experts say even a casual discussion about politics in the office can get sensitive, so it’s usually best to avoid the topic altogether.
Every workplace has their own sets of norms and standards for what’s off-limits so when it comes to topics of conversation avoid getting into politics at work.
Plus, when you’re at the workplace or on the job, you are being paid to execute an assigned set of tasks, not campaign for your party.
So why isn’t it a good idea to discuss politics at work? The experts say relationships can be strained, your work may suffer, and your colleagues will feel uncomfortable.
Human Resource experts often say talking politics in the office doesn’t have the same legal status however; there is little difference between this and discussions over other sensitive issues. There is very little benefit in running the risk that somebody will feel discomfort, just as if one were discussing sex or telling sexual jokes, religious matters, one’s income, et cetera.
Aside from ticking off your colleagues and possibly tarnishing certain relationships, talking politics in the office could affect your work.
One litmus test you can use for any topic that is unrelated to work is, “Does this discussion enhance productivity?” Odds are, those political conversations don’t. It’s a good idea to have camaraderie in the workplace; to be a team player and be communicative. But the office is a place to deliver your best performance. You may get sidetracked from these types of conversations, and you can create unnecessary conflict for yourself and others by engaging in a heated debate or series of them over politics.
If you’re the one who is uncomfortable and your boss or colleagues try to drag you into political discussions, the best thing to do is simply not engage in the conversation. This may mean smiling and nodding, or making some neutral comments in reaction to the speaker. Sooner or later, the speaker will get the picture that this is not something you’d like to continue to pursue. Try to steer the conversation to your mutual projects diplomatically. Do more listening than talking, avoid getting into the fray and push the conversation to work-related topics.
In the event that the conversation persists to the point where it begins to interfere with your work or personal comfort, you have to take whatever steps you feel necessary to ensure the environment is a positive and productive one. If someone at work asks your opinion on a political topic or who your choice is for president, you don’t have to answer; simply let the person know that’s something you like to keep to yourself. Never assume that someone shares the same political views and opinions as you. It can be easy to go from what you thought might be a light and casual conversation to something more heated if you don’t expect the unexpected. And, if you do find yourself getting into a bit of an intense political topic, do your best to find some middle ground. In order to stay peacefully on the same page and feeling like a team, save the political discussions for your personal time. The ability to communicate effectively and come together to solve problems and meet goals is essential. Politics can be a very divisive topic, alienating workers from each other ideologically in a way that can be pretty tough to repair.