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When Politics and the workplace collide


Elections are over and for many people the experience was a very emotional one, but it’s still not over even though a winner has been declared. Many people lost control this election, and now they must figure out how to repair the damage caused by heated debates and insults.{{more}}

Although we should all be professionals, political views can break down relationships at work. People are passionate about their candidates and political parties and issues, and spoken words run the risk of offending, or even angering, a colleague, a manager, or a senior leader. Simple discussions can escalate to disagreements and then public arguments. The political grudges that result can run deep, linger silently, and last for years. Many will never again be discussed openly. Such instances could affect your ability to build strong relationships, relationships that might help your career. Is winning a debate over a political issue really worth that? Political discussions at work can cause havoc at work. Take a moment to review the following tips.

Hampering productivity.

Every office has someone who is a political junkie. They follow politics incessantly and know all the views of all the candidates. With that much information, this personality type craves finding people to share their opinions with, even if doing so means interrupting a colleague who is busy.

Annoying coworkers.

Sometimes, overly involved coworkers engage colleagues in such constant conversation that nearby workers cannot concentrate on tasks, even those who are not participating in the discussion directly. They engage others outside office doors or beside cubicle walls, making it impossible for the general workforce to work. Feelings of annoyance build to resentment and because no one is able to get their work done, that person is branded negatively. Long after the elections, they may still find themselves being avoided or pushed outside, all because they made such a bad impression earlier.

If you are still not convinced to avoid this dangerous road and insist on going down it again and again, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

1. Stay neutral. If you do decide to talk politics, keep the conversation basic and do not allow yourself to be baited into expressing views you are really passionate about. Heated debates always occur when others try to defend their opposing, equally passionate views—work is just not the place for political debate. 2. Keep the conversation short. Don’t turn the conversation into a lengthy forum or soapbox. Instead, make a few brief, and neutral, comments then change the topic, leave the room, or listen to your colleagues.

3. Get out of the fire! If you can’t resist engagement and the first two tips have suddenly failed you, take control of yourself and follow one of the first two tips!

Elections come and elections go and candidates change their views (and, sometimes, even their party affiliations), but you might not have the flexibility of rebuilding your reputation or your career with such ease. It’s always best to consider the topic of politics forbidden in the workplace.

Karen Hinds is “The Workplace Success Expert.” For a FREE SPECIAL REPORT on Avoiding Career Killers in the Workplace, send an email to [email protected]
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