I grew up in a town where Bill Clinton came in third in the 1992 presidential election. Then I moved to Long Island, where Clinton was considered a bit too conservative. I've lived in the midwest, the south, the east coast and Europe and I've gathered friends from all these places. The result of this, during an election, I start to go a bit crazy with the constant politician bashing posts on my Facebook feed

My feed looks something like this: Trump is Hitler! Next post: Hillary is a lying weasel. Followed by Cruz wants to turn everyone into frogs. Or something like that. The reality is, none of these posts change anyone's minds, but they do make people keep their mouths shut.

Except, wait. Lots of rational people vote for all sorts of different people. There have been some years my husband and I have seriously considered not voting because we knew our votes would just cancel each other's out. (We did vote and I'm right, by the way.)

When the political candidate bashing is limited to our Facebook walls and we've been good about not friending our employees (because, seriously, you do not need to be involved in your employees' personal social media), then it's not that bad for your business. But, when you say things at the office like, "I can't believe anyone in their right mind could vote for [your most hated candidate] what it does is encourage silence because people don't want to disagree and be told that they are stupid.

It's only an election, right? You can bash a candidate all day long and your employees wll stil know that you'll listen to them and their fabulous ideas about the widgets you make. Right? Of course not. What they see and hear is a boss that makes differences of opinions a personal attack on the person who dared to differ with her. You do not want that.

Instead of attacking a political candidate or someone's idea about improving your widget, try saying something positive about your own idea. Example: "I really like [candidate X] because I think [favorite cause] is the most important thing in this election. I really like [candidate X's] record on that."

That allows your employee to respond, "Well, I really like [candidate Y] because I appreciate the way he/she has [accomplishment] so well." Then you can have a polite conversation. At no point do you say, "Well, if you like candidate Y, you're an idiot." You don't even say "Candidate Y is an idiot" even if you believe that with your whole soul.

You always want employees who are willing to speak their minds. As my Inc colleague, Alison Davis, points out, if your employees aren't speaking up, it's you, not them. You may think your constant harping on politics doesn't affect your business performance, but insulting candidates is rude, and people take it personally. Rudeness can lower performance by 52 percent.

Try being nice. Speak positively about what you like in a candidate, and leave the bashing to your Facebook wall (unless you're my Facebook friend, because, frankly, I'm tired of the bashing there).

 

 

Published on: Mar 16, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.