Do you proudly sport your “I voted today!” sticker at work after voting day? Is your car adorned with bumper sticker after bumper sticker proclaiming your love for the candidate of your choice? Do you willingly engage in political debates at work?
With the conventions beginning for both parties (Democratic has started, Republican is Sep 1-4) and veeps chosen or on the way to being picked, it seems inevitable for politics to be on our radar. With the Olympics finally out of the picture, the media has picked up the pieces and filled the void by dominating the news with political story after political story.
But this does pose a question that many of you have probably already faced: how appropriate is it to talk politics at work? Does anything good come from discussing politics?
Political talk is often referred to one of the “fearsome foursome”-sex, money, religion, and politics- that should be avoided at work. Perhaps politics is the scariest of the four because it includes all of its predecessors. How do you feel about same-sex marriage? Abortion? Who should be taxed the most? Should our president match our own faith? These are all questions we consider when thinking of politics, and all cover the forbidden topics.
Some have a work environment that encourages debate and requires everyone to share their opinions. Others have a work environment that encourages them to have the same opinion as their boss, thus the predicament of mixing politics and work. The debate rages with some employees feeling that political talk fuels excitement and individuality that translates back over to their work. The other viewpoint argues that sharing political views pressures employees into conforming to management’s views in fear of the Scarlet letter.
If you suffer from the latter work environment, try one of these tricks to keep your political views safely hidden:
*Plead the fifth. If you are a straight-shooter, politely bow out of the conversation. Jokes will make the exit more comfortable, but there is nothing wrong with telling them you simply keep politics and work separate.
*Re-direction. When someone asks which way you are going to vote, re-direct their question. Ask them how they would handle it if a customer asked how they would vote. It’s a valid question, and it directs the focus back to work.
*Switch topics immediately. “Oh, sorry I spaced out from boredom. But did you hear that we get free lunch to celebrate Labor Day?” May not be your style, but many people do suffer from being passive aggressive. Hey, if the shoe fits….
Now it’s your turn. How do you handle political topics at work? Do you parade around your candidate? Or do you parade your boss’s candidate while secretly decorating your house in the opposition?
This is a guest post by Lauren Kleinman.