The office isn’t the same institution as it was thirty years ago. Workers have transitioned from typewriters and telephones to computers and Skype meetings. However, not all changes have been for the good. While there have always been exceptions, the office environment of the 80s was a reflection of society’s perception that polarizing topics like politics should not be discussed at work.
The IV line that has infused technology into the workplace has given a dose of social media so strong that the line between our home and work selves has practically disappeared. This gradual deconstruction has been a primary driver of the increase in companies feeling forced to get involved in politics like Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, who recently resigned from President Trump’s Economic Advisory Committee.
Most leaders stand little chance of taking a political stance that makes headline news. So how do we deal with political views in the workplace? There is no simple answer to maneuver around the potholes of this dilemma, but there are guiding principles that can neutralize many precarious situations.
Respect goes a long way no matter what the subject of the conversation. If you find yourself in a political discussion, remember the importance of listening and curiosity. And perhaps the skillful art of changing the subject.
In the same way that it’s possible to have a great relationship with one’s parents AND respect that there are boundaries around what is appropriate for discussion, this understanding can similarly be applied to coworkers. The guideline may be that the stickiest topics should only be discussed with those you have the best rapport.
The very best alternative may be to forego politics (and religion and other potentially polarizing topics) in favor of work, sports and the latest new releases.
How do you navigate politics and other touchy subjects in your office? Share your tips below or send us message.
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