Friday, October 3, 2008

Is talking politics in the office avoidable?

With the Vice Presidential debate last night and the Presidential election entering its final weeks, it may be hard to find an office free of political discussion these days.

Half of workers openly discuss politics in the office, according to a 2008 survey of U.S. employees conducted by human resources firm Adecco USA. A staggering 61% of Millenials and Generation Y employees think it’s acceptable to talk politics at work.

While it may be acceptable in some workplaces, if political discussion turns into a heated political debate you may have a serious problem on your hands.

From ABC News:

“Reveal which candidate you’re backing to a boss with opposing views, and you risk being penalized on the job by a petty partisan.

... But addressing the election in the workplace is sometimes unavoidable, especially if you work in an ultra-casual small office, or your manager is politically, shall we say, exuberant. So, what should you do if you find yourself staring down a political debate with your boss or another colleague?”

So, is it possible to avoid talking politics at work? Some may think so, but here are some tips to handle situations where it may be completely unavoidable:

  • Ask questions. Buy yourself some time by asking the other person questions like, “So, you’ve made your decision?” and “What convinced you to make up your mind?”

  • Plead the fifth. If the other person insists on hearing your opinion, simply explain that you like to keep your political opinions to yourself.

  • Say something funny. If a coworker or boss continues asking your political opinion, say something to diffuse the situation like, “Will my answer show up in my quarterly review?”

  • Agree to disagree. Stay calm and explain to the other person that you respect their opinion, but would rather not talk about it at work.

  • Discuss rather than debate. Again, stay calm. Do your best to have a political discussion, not debate. If things start to get heated, tell the other person you’re late for a meeting and leave the room.

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