Image Credits: Melissa Vossler

As we all know, discussing politics in the workplace can be some tricky business.  With it being an election year, sometimes it’s even impossible to avoid. Having a professional relationship with your coworkers is very important, but it’s also important to stand up for what you believe in. Here are some do’s & some don’t’s for discussing politics with your coworkers.

1) DO know who you’re talking to. If it’s the new guy that you don’t know much about, or someone you know has a polar opposite political stance from you, bringing up politics might not be the smartest thing to do. Everyone has their own opinion when it comes to policy.  It can be easy to offend someone and make working with them uncomfortable if you don’t know the person that well. Know the person well enough so that you’re able to avoid discussing any possible sore spots when it comes to politics.

2) With that being said DON’T compromise your personal beliefs.  And you definitely shouldn’t do so just to make the people around you feel more comfortable. You are better off just not commenting on the subject than saying something you don’t believe. If you don’t agree with someone’s views, let them know that. But don’t let them bully you into saying you agree with them if you don’t. The workplace is one place that it doesn’t hurt you to stay quiet if you don’t feel comfortable discussing a certain topic.

3) DO stand up for yourself and your beliefs. When you encounter an opinion that’s completely opposite of yours, the key is to be respectful. Just because they might think differently than you, doesn’t give them any less of a right to have an opinion. It also means that you’re entitled to your own opinion.  If a coworker says something to you that belittles your beliefs or offends you, respectfully stand up for yourself. You can let them know that you don’t agree with them while still maintaining a professional relationship with them.

4) DON’T make people feel uncomfortable about their beliefs. The greatest thing about being an American is that you are entitled to believe whatever you want to believe – no matter what.  Just like you are allowed to have your own political views, so are your coworkers, whether or not you agree with them. You can disagree, but disagree gracefully.  Don’t start a fight just because someone has a different opinion than you. Just like you should stand up for your own beliefs, let them also stand up for theirs.

5) DO encourage, but DON’T berate. If you find yourself discussing politics at work, there is no harm in encouraging your coworkers to become politically informed. Voter apathy is a serious problem in America, and often stems from a lack of knowledge on important issues. Encouraging someone to educate themselves on issues that matter to them is awesome, but don’t shove politics down their throats. Some people are simply not interested in politics, and while it can be frustrating, it isn’t illegal. If someone doesn’t seem interested in the conversation, don’t force it on them.

While these are just a few tips, I hope they are helpful the next time you find yourself talking about the election at work. The key thing to remember is that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no matter what. But at work it’s especially important to be respectful of other’s opinions.

Sheridan M