Today's world can often feel like we're all walking on eggshells. It's no secret that we're living in a politically polarized world. People are obviously passionate. I can't express how many times I've been asked how to deal with the political opinions of others in the workplace. Do you argue your point? Do you keep your mouth shut? And, is it appropriate to have political discussions in the workplace at all?

Everyone reading this might have different answers to all of the above questions. And, just be forewarned that while we all have the freedom to express our opinions openly, we also have the responsibility of understanding the tension we might be creating at the office.

Here are nine simple rules you should consider before you either express your passionate opinions at work, or respond to differing opinions at work.

Know your audience.

It's a big assumption to think you're working with all like-minded people when it comes to politics. If you're working on a project with someone, and they haven't talked about politics, there's probably a good reason--because they either disagree with you, or they simply don't believe it should be part of the conversation at work. The safe bet is to keep your conversations focused on work, family, friends, and weekend activities.

Estimate the fallout.

Everyone believes they're right when it comes to political discussion--because they are. They have the freedom to form their own opinions. You need to think about the potential fall-outs you might have in relationships at work if you find yourself in disagreement with a coworker. Sure, you might sit on opposing sides of the aisle--but you're still required to work together and get the job done. 


This sounds simplistic, but if you find yourself in a political debate whether it's at work or not, the best chance you have to sway someone else's opinion is to actually sit and listen. They'll respect the fact that you respect them enough to hear their points. And, you might actually see things from a totally different perspective as well.

Ask only policy questions. Give only policy answers.

If there are two things we can all agree with now, it's that the country is divided, and that there's a lot of blame being pitched from both parties. If you're going to talk politics, keep it focused on policies. View them all as projects that can be improved if we all started working together instead of blaming each other.  

Separate your bias.

Just because someone doesn't agree with you politically doesn't mean they're bad at their job, and it doesn't mean you can't work with them. You have reasons you think the way you do, and so do they. None of those reasons should impact the quality of the work you can produce together.

Keep your language positive.

If you simply cannot contain your passion for one political party, at least keep your communication positive about that party rather than sharing the disdain you feel for the opposition. Positive comments rarely offend people. Negative comments almost always offend someone.

Practice patience.

Although the political cycles can often make every decision feel like impending doom, it's important to remain calm and understand that the purpose of democracy is to be self-corrective--not just for the last election, or the next election, but over the long haul. You won't like some changes. They won't like some changes. The pendulum will continue to swing in both directions.   

Be kind.

It may be hard to believe but some of the people you disagree with the most about politics are actually some of the kindest people you'll ever meet. Let's not take kindness lightly in this world. Kind people aren't separated by party lines--they're the fabric of understanding, compassion, and true human strength. And that's a concept that's hard to dispute. 

Understand the biggest picture.

It may be frustrating. It might make your blood boil. It might be the very reason you question whether or not you can continue to be friends with someone, work with someone, or relate to someone. But realize this--the very day we all decide to agree with each other, is the exact same day we lose our right to disagree. This is your freedom.

Politics can be messy. Passionate opinions can impede our ability to work together, if we allow it. It's really your choice how you want to communicate your opinions to the world right now. And luckily the most powerful way to let your voice be heard is to vote.  

And, if you're curious, my company, O.C. Tanner, recently surveyed 1000 people across the U.S., as well as their organizations to better understand corporate voting policies.  You can find the results here