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How to Navigate Political Talk in the Workplace

How to Navigate Political Talk in the Workplace

I voted for Hilary. #JudgeMe

You probably don’t want this to be your go-to conversation starter for political discussions in the workplace.

The verdict is out on whether it is appropriate to talk about politics at work. A recent survey suggests that people experienced hostility in the workplace due to their political affiliation during the 2016 election. With such a contentious presidential election, one might be adamant in showing public affection for their candidate of choice, even at work. I, for one, yielded a very sad yet optimistic aura in my office the day after the presidential election results.

When talking about politics, my number one rule is to be honest in my discussion. If something gets too personal, I avoid getting defensive and simply change the subject. How about the weather today?  Everyone loves to talk about weather.

If you do want to talk politics, however, here are three ways to guide your discussions in the workplace:

Respect is Reciprocal

Taken from the title song of 9ice, a Nigerian musician, and one of my mothers’ favorite sayings, respect is crucial. When taking part in political discussions at work, be sure to be confident but not rude. Acknowledge that different opinions are what make up the fabric of our society and be respectful. No one should be belittled, talked over, or made to feel ashamed. The old adage: treat others the way one you want to be treated is paramount.

Body Language

The key here is to understand when something you say or was said errs on the side of caution. Political conversations can be emotionally fueled and often bring up personal experiences. If you feel uncomfortable, give short answers to questions, don’t elaborate much and remove yourself from the water cooler talk. According to the job source Monster, maintaining professionalism and common courtesy is a great practice for managers to regulate, if something appears awry.

Acknowledge the Risks

Remember: you are someone’s employee. You may represent a company that has endorsed a politician you disagree with. The more information you know about someone, the more they have against you should ish hit the fan. Let’s say you were fired a week after a heated discussion with your manager about one candidate’s stance on public education. You might speculate within yourself that you were let go because you are a child of the public school system, while you insinuated that only rich, stuck up kids go to private school. Your company lobbies and invests in private education. Hey, it could happen. The moment you shared your fiery opinion about private education could have been the moment you risked it all. Choose your battles wisely.

About The Author

Fatia is the founder of FatiKmedia, a multimedia company in the Greater Philadelphia area. A journalist by degree, Fatia loves to write, produce video and much more. She currently serves, as the secretary of internal communications for the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists. She is a content producer that loves to write about tech, culture and self-empowerment. In her spare time she loves to read and spend time with loved ones. With her results-oriented approach, people describe Fatia as professional, creative and forthright!


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