What To Do About Politics Discussion at Work


Politics by nature is polarizing. We can see how politics plays out in the political arena. We can see the vile and vicious nature of politics at the national level, state level, and local levels. The last thing one would want is to face a politics discussion at work. This does not create a conducive work environment for the employees of that company.

Politics is something that cannot be divorced from most parts of our life. As with everything balance is the key even for political discussions in the workplace.

Consequences of Having a Politics Discussion at Work

Distraction

The major focus of most businesses are not involved with politics other than for a niche like political consulting and some other niche businesses. Politics is something that is not at the core of the mission and vision of the business. Political discussions do not bring about any output that aligns with the business. Political discussion at the workplace means time for productive work is less than ideal. This is not good, for the business and also for the employee in the long run.

Polarization

In the topics that are political in nature, most people hold a view that is strongly related to their belief systems. Humans are willing to go to any lengths to defend what they believe in. It is very difficult for two people to coexist after they have openly challenged each other’s belief systems. But in the workplace, there needs to be high levels of collaboration for the day to day operations of a company.

There needs to be a harmony between members of a team and also between different teams. It is definitely better to have team members who are not at each other’s throat. Political discussions at the workplace can lead to rifts that are irreparable in nature and such polarisations should be avoided at any cost.

Having an employee at work that needs some guidance towards working better? Check out “How to Motivate an Employee Who’s Underperforming in Your Café” for some tips on motivating your staff.

What to do About Politics Discussion at Work
Polarisation can have an impact on your employees’ performance

Legal concerns

Employees are part of an organization and to some extent represent the organization also. So actions by an employee will have some level of reflection on the businesses too. Employees have to take care of that. Even for the employees, there are possibilities of lawsuits and other legal ramifications for engaging in political discussions in the workplace. One cannot always anticipate what may lead to a legal dispute when vehement political discussions are happening. So employers and employees need to vary of such potential legal concerns that might arise.

Downsides to Politics Discussion at Work

Definitely, there are serious downsides to having political discussions at the workplace. A company cannot ban such discussions. Free thinking is what spurs creativity and speech is an expression of such thinking. When some topics are banned, let us say politics or any other topic for that matter, it gives a sense in the minds of the employees that there are restrictions on what can be implemented in the company. It restricts the thinking of the employees in the context of work and won’t be forthcoming is creating innovative and breakthrough ideas. It is a fine line to keep when the topic of politics is at hand.

Supervisors of employees play a major role in regulating such political discussions at the workplace. Political discussions at work, of course, should not be encouraged. The supervisors should make a judgment on what discussions go too far.

Human Resources

From the experience of HR professionals, there are always indicators of a polarizing individual. In general experience, polarizing individuals wear their political identity on their sleeves. There may be instances of candidates talking about political leaning without even being asked during the interview or other parts of the selection procedure. It is a clear red flag.

Such individuals obviously do not have the ability to judge and discern what needs to be told or not. Polarizing individuals are definitely not going to exercise discernment when it comes to political discussions in the office.

Such individuals actively seek and instigate political discussions at work an act hostile to people who has a different view from theirs. One of the easiest things to do is to eliminate such individuals during the selection process. Even if such individuals may not actively participate in political discussions in the work environment. But the lack of judgment he/ she has shown in the circumstance of the interview definitely is questionable and it would be a wise decision to eliminate the candidate.

What to do About Politics Discussion at Work
There are always indicators of a polarizing individual

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What Can Employees Do?

Even though one may not be interested in having a political discussion in the workplace one may be dragged into one despite one’s best efforts. This may be as simple as being asked of an opinion on a subject that is politically loaded. Personally, in the workplace, I want to do my part there and the rest of my life is reserved for my own private life. Some tactics can be employed to get out of such tricky situations. Tact is something that can be relied upon in tricky situations at work and also in other facets of life. Be sure to also check out “Tools For Tracking Employee Performance at Your Cafe” for tips on finding ways to track the activity of your employees at your restaurant or business.

Diplomacy

Even conflicts between two warring countries can be pacified by diplomatic efforts. Similarly, gracefully handle any political discussion with diplomacy.

Hugging from an arms distance is diplomacy. In almost any political discussion, there will be two major views and both the views will be mutually exclusive. In such situations, it is ideal to acknowledge the validity of both sides and possible shortcomings. It depends on the people taking part in the discussion about how it is received.

Do not initiate

This is the easiest one to follow. It is best to stay away from political discussions in the workplace as it is. Make sure that you do not initiate political discussions. Political topics have a high likelihood of bringing about a full-blown politically-charged discussion on it. Veer away from discussing and bringing up such topics.

Be courteous

Polarizing political discussions may cause one to lose temper fast. One has to take care that such instances do not happen. One should always be courteous even if engaged in a heated discussion. It is with colleagues you are having the discussion and you have to work together with them even after the discussion has died down. If you cross the line of civility in a discussion you lose the level of acceptance even after the discussion is over.

Open mind

Keep an open mind in any discussion you take part in even if it is not a political discussion and especially in political discussions. You might be having some strong opinions about the topic under discussion. But there is a possibility that you may not know everything about the matter under discussion. So make it a point to listen to opposing views and keep an open mind to accept new and/or differing ideas.

What to do About Politics Discussion at Work
Keep an open mind to accept new or differing ideas

Be on guard

Sometimes discussions may start when you are spending time with your colleagues outside work scenario. It may be in a pub while having drinks or during housewarming of a mutual friend. But you need to understand that people do not think in silos. What you said during a non-work related environment may flow into the workplace. The political discussion may continue even back at the office. So do not consider you are in a safe space even when office hours are over.

Misinformation

Do not engage in or spread misinformation about anything, especially political matters. Now all of us are bombarded with a ton of fake news and we may not be aware of all facts related to the matter. So it is wise to have a thorough knowledge of the subject you are going to talk about. Do not profess things you do not know. Know the facts of the matter before you delve deep into any discussion.

Pivot

Changing the topic to a work-related matter is a solution to avoid a political discussion in the workplace. After all, you are in the office for work. Your focus is on your work. When you sense that there is a potential for a conversation to veer into a hot topic that might lead to a heated political discussion, you can deflect the line of the conversation by bringing in a subject that has a pressing concern at the office. This tactic can be highly effective when you know what the most pressing concerns are for the person whom you are talking to. This will deflect a heated discussion and you will be indirectly responsible for some productive output for your company.

What to do About Politics Discussion at Work
Changing the topic to a work-related matter is a solution to avoid a political discussion in the workplace.

Any discussion that happens in your workplace needs to have a positive impact on the business of your company. Political discussions more often than not do not bring any value for the organization you work for.

It is best to stay away from political discussions at work. Have you ever witnessed a heavy discussion about politics at work? Let us know in the comments below! Also, check out “Best Small Business Apps for General Productivity” for more helpful tips on how your business can become even more productive.

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