Avoiding Politics at Work

The political divide has never been more intense. These days, politics come up at just about any dinner table, water cooler, or outdoor seating patio. And no matter what side of the aisle they are sitting on, everyone cares.  A lot. About everything.

Working with people who think and are passionate about things quite different from yourself can cause a giant relational rift when hot topics come up. Avoiding political discussion is not only a good idea; it’s imperative.

Here’s the why–

It’s just a bad idea:

  • Typically, political beliefs are deeply seeded in personal experience — you’re not going to change anyone’s mind when it comes to experiences.
  • For some people, political beliefs are often tied to religious beliefs and are very personal. People tend to become emotional about these issues and may take opposing ideas personally.
  • The increased public polarization of differing ideas has stirred itself up into a hostile, boiling pot. It is not an environment you want distracting you at work.
  • People may avoid or discriminate against people they disagree with –not necessarily out of malice, but to sidestep an argument.
  • Politics can be divisive and distracts you and your coworkers from your common goal of productivity and customer satisfaction.

And the how –

As an Employer:

  • As a private company, you do have the right to establish perimeters of conversation during work hours. Make sure the policies are written in your manuals and training materials.
  • Be consistent with your policies through “political seasons” (a.k.a. election years) and non-political seasons.
  • Keep an ear out for any heated or out-of-hand discussions — be prepared to step in and direct people back to their tasks at hand.
  • Hold yourself accountable as well. Issues may be important to you, too, but it’s critical to set an example.

As an Employee:

  • Whether it’s a campaign shirt or a presidential bobblehead, it’s best to leave your political paraphernalia at home.
  • Beware of what you say on social media. It may not be during work hours, but there’s still the possibility it could cause tension with a coworker you have to see every day.
  • There are minor issues, and then there are BIG issues. It’s likely you and your coworker will never agree, so agree to put it aside during work for the benefit of everyone.

If you discuss it after hours, seek to understand where your coworker is coming from. These kinds of conversations can be very healthy.

  • If someone insists on “getting into it,” know when to walk away. There are some things you’ll have to agree to disagree on.
  • In all your conversations, try to remember what you have in common and focus on those things instead.

At Hamilton Connections, we believe we’re much stronger together. That’s why we focus on relationships and personal connections when we match talent with opportunity. If you’re looking for your next team member or a new career step, and let’s get started!