My favorite golden rule of conversation is to avoid these three topics: politics, sex and religion. While they can be good, bad and ugly, there’s no escaping their controversy. We have no control over the actions or words of politicians, but we are in complete control of our own behavior.
In the workplace, these are people you will be interacting with on a regular basis. Because you have to see them over and over again, keep things polite and civil. Here are some tips to keep the conversation from becoming explosive.
- Avoid The Water Cooler. Even if you disagree with your colleagues, show respect and ask questions; you might even learn something new. But never bring up the subject of politics first. If you find yourself in a coffee klatch, listen even if you don’t agree and allow others time to speak their mind. As the saying goes, “If you can’t take the heat, get out of the kitchen.”
- Know Your Audience. If you know co-workers who are on the same page as you, then by all means have a go at solving the issues.
- Keep Calm And Be Civil. If you can’t be civil in the workplace, where can you be? Don’t get worked up at the office which could harm your professional relationships and job, and who wants to be called into the manager’s office?
- Keep Calm And Watch Your Tongue. A former boss once told me that it takes years to build a reputation and seconds to bring it down. If you’ve worked hard to build relationships and a reputation, keep your political leanings to yourself. Like religion, it’s far too passionate a subject and one that many people feel strongly about.
- Prepare To Pivot. If a fight ensues, that’s your queue to leave the conversation and have another topic ready to go. In the 2016 presidential election, I recall two people saying the race was between a crook or a creep. That didn’t go over well with some in our party, so I quickly changed the subject. Food was an easier topic to digest.
- Control Your Political Temperature. If the subject of politics arises, be sure to know the facts. There’s nothing worse than an opinionated and confrontational know-it-all.
- Avoid Toxic Co-Workers. Getting into an argument with a co-worker who does not share your views is unprofessional. It can also be harmful to office morale.
- Resist The Urge To Post. Let someone else make a fool of themselves online. Big brother is always watching, and your cyber DNA is always here to stay!
Workplace and politics: employee beware!