Discussing Politics in Work: Do’s and Don’ts

Avoiding talking about politics in work is not always possible – it’s constantly in the news, particularly around election time. But there are a few things that you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to dealing with politics in work and any discussion that you may encounter.

Politics in Work: Know the Rules

You may not know it, but some employers have rules regarding bringing campaign material to work or wearing political clothing or accessories. Check if your work has some policies or rules in place regarding politics in work. Even if it’s not technically against the rules, keep in mind that your actions or words could still offend your co-workers. Best play it safe!

Keep it Friendly

In many offices, discussing politics in work is ok in the break room or around the coffee machine, especially when elections are coming up. If you’re keen to engage, just keep in mind that the conversation should stay light-hearted and friendly. It’s unlikely you will change your co-workers’ mind if their opinions differ from yours, so avoid confrontation in your questions and keep the discussion as a conversation, not a debate.

Tread Lightly, Even After Work

Just because working hours are officially over, it does not mean you can say anything you like. If it’s technically allowed, it is still best to tread lightly as people’s opinion of you can quickly change because of a heated comment, even if it was meant to be funny. Whether you are at an after-work event, spending some time with colleagues or posting on your social media profiles, keep in mind that what you say in informal context can always count against you.

Avoid Sensitive Topics

Political opinion can often be a more in depth representation of a person’s beliefs, and some subjects are best to be left out of conversations to avoid any heated debates that could escalate. Topics like same-sex marriage or abortion are hot buttons that have no place in the office. While discussing politics in work is acceptable for many businesses, avoiding these sensitive topics is advised.

Know When to End the Conversation

Even with the best intentions in mind, some conversations can get a bit confrontational when discussing politics in work. If this is the case, learn to recognise when it’s time to walk away. Simple things like stating that you have to get back to the job at hand would be enough to keep things calm. You could also try just changing the subject. If the person you’re chatting to persists, do not hesitate to reinforce the message; even with a simple “Let’s just agree to disagree” which can effectively put an end to the conversation.

Talking politics in work can be tricky, but it’s a hard subject to avoid. Just make sure all employees are aware of any rules and do your best to remind them that political conversations should stay calm, classy and non-confrontational!

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