With a historically polarizing presidential election upon us, it's easy to get in hot water with a colleague who doesn't share one's political views. So what happens when a Sanders supporter is cube-mates with a Trump fan? How can we talk about the candidates and the issues we care about without creating workplace rifts?
The simplest rule, and probably the best, is to avoid politics whenever you can. But when it does come up, here are five tips for making politics work at work this election season:
1. Explain, but don't persuade.
It's OK to explain why you support your favorite candidate. But don't try to persuade your colleagues to join the cause. Explanation fits in the office. Persuasion belongs on the campaign trail. Mixing the two gets messy and inevitably leads to conflict.
2. Don't assume others feel as you do.
Because they don't. This is particularly dangerous in demographically homogenous workplaces. It's human nature to assume in such environments that views you hold to be self-evident are widely shared. And that's where the trouble starts. The same person you instantly click with when comparing Pandora playlists may hold wildly different political views. Don't assume otherwise. You know what happens when you assume.
3. There are no issues that don't have an "other side."
Be outwardly and authentically respectful of opposing views. If you can't show genuine respectfulness for those who disagree with your political opinions -- don't share them in the workplace. Period. Full stop.
4. Civility matters.
We all rightly decry the lack of civility in politics. Set a higher standard for yourself. Be for what you're for--but don't demonize what you're against. It's warranted to speak passionately about the issues and policies that you care about, but demonization and personal attacks are never ok.
5. Political conversations should be organic, not orchestrated.
It's one thing to participate when politics comes up naturally. But if you're itching to start a political conversation-- make sure first that you're being true to these tips. Chances are you're not.