There might have been many times when you got into a healthy political debate with a friend; however, talking politics at the workplace is very different.
While you can tell a buddy that you believe he is wrong, and even raise your voice in a friendly debate match, the same behaviours at work can leave colleagues upset and uncomfortable.
While it is not necessary to prohibit political talk at work, there are strategies to do so without offending anyone, which we will provide in this blog.
Know Your Audience – It is very likely that you have gotten to know some of your co workers very well, eating lunches together and going out to the pub after work for years.
With these people, you may feel more comfortable expressing your true opinion and being more risque. However, a different strategy needs to be in place for talking about possible sensitive subjects with staff, bosses or other colleagues you are not as familiar with.
For example, you may have a very traditional view when it comes to gay marriage, but you don’t want to offend anyone with your views, especially not knowing their lifestyle choices and preferences. Therefore, in certain situations, it may be wiser to listen more than contribute, or possibly remain quiet. If you are asked for your opinion directly, you can state that you are undecided or simply prefer not to get into the conversation.
Agree to Disagree – If you are put on the spot, or simply feel you must contribute your piece to the discussion about politics, you must be able to stop yourself from coming on too strong.
Even if your opinion is not the most popular one, and you simply cannot prove your point enough to get anyone on your side, you must, at some point, agree to disagree.
Remember that the workplace is a professional environment where employees must be cordial and respectful of others. This mentality has to apply to all situations, even possibly heated or sensitive discussions. If you feel yourself or the other person getting angry, simply state that you would like to agree to disagree, and walk away.
Maintain Your Credibility – An important rule for talking about politics is to be current in your knowledge.
One of the most embarrassing things that can happen in a political debate is being caught with incorrect or outdated information.
Politics is ever-changing, with new developments happening constantly. If someone brings up a point that you are not familiar with, don’t lie or make up an answer, but be confident enough to say that you are not familiar with this development enough to comment on it.
Political talk at work can quickly escalate into a heated argument, making participants feel angry, uncomfortable and upset. This can lead to ineffective and unproductive work days, which are not acceptable at work.
Follow these tips to talk politics at the office without offending anyone.
Head of Training and Development
Updated on: 17 September, 2015
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