Political Tensions at Work
Updated: Jul 8
I am dreading the next couple of months when any conversation about the election and its results could lead to significant—even irreparable tension and conflict with colleagues. But not to talk about it at all feels weird and may be impossible. What should I do when the subject comes up?
Many people feel strongly about their candidates up and down the ballots. It’s understandable to want to talk about it. That said, here are some thoughts that may be useful.
Check to see whether your company has announced any suggestions or guidelines about talking about the election. If so, such guidelines may be useful to follow at work.
If you are considering talking about the election at work, identify what your goals would be in discussing the election. It is unlikely that you and your colleagues will change each others’ minds, so why do it? As many articles have pointed out, there often isn’t an upside to talking about contentious political issues at work, and the election this year elicits at lot of strong feelings.
If you do find yourself entering into a conversation with someone who holds different views, try to keep it as a conversation and be respectful. Ask questions and try to understand the other person’s perspective: “Help me understand why you support _______ (candidate).” If the conversation starts to veer off course, suggest that the conversation go on pause and end the conversation by switching topics or say you need to get back to work.
If a colleague approaches you to engage in a conversation about the election and you think it best not to do so, try redirecting it to focus on work or other matters. You may need to be direct and explain that you don’t want to talk about it, period, and ask them to respect this.
Here are some additional tips about talking politics at work.
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