Should You Discuss Politics in Your Workplace?

If ever there was a year to stay away from discussing politics in the office, it’s this year.

Or is it?

Whether considering the big crowds that showed up at Trump rallies or the spontaneous airport protests this past weekend, more people than ever are engaged in the political process. It’s inevitable that some of this political passion will spill into workplaces. So, how should a manager or company handle this? Ban it? Ignore it? Move to Switzerland?

The choice doesn’t have to be whether to discuss politics or not. Instead, employees can learn how to talk about it without alienating each other. Training your employees to know how to do this is a good idea since many are going to do it regardless, especially in our current heated environment.

According to experts quoted in a recent Harvard Business Review article, there are very specific ways to discuss politics including these dos and don’ts:

• Recognize the risks. If you decide to speak your mind on a particular hot-button issue, do so knowing that the chances of influencing your colleagues are slim and that you may offend someone.
• Ask questions. Be curious and open minded.
• Show respect by validating either the content of the other person’s viewpoint or their right to have an opinion.

• Demonize the other side. Instead, look for areas of agreement.
• Lie about your views, but don’t feel you need to be fully candid and transparent.
• Tolerate a colleague’s incessant political talk. If their behavior is distracting, say so.

The article also gives some very good use cases for positive political communication in actual workplaces which I recommend checking out.

Frank Kenna III
January 31, 2017

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