Political Talk Still Rampant? Try These 6 Ways to Deal.

Joe Weinlick
Posted by in Career Advice

Political talk is still rampant in the office, even though President Donald Trump's administration took the reins in January 2017. In a survey published in May 2017, the American Psychological Association says one-quarter, or 26 percent, of employees feel tense or threatened when they hear or engage in political discussions at the office, while 21 percent of workers feel more negative at work because of this issue. Discover six ways to deal with this problem.

1. Tread Carefully

If a recruiter or job interviewer tries to engage you in political talk on the job hunt, find out what the corporate culture is before bringing up politics again. Use this as a cue for how to proceed. When people feel jaded about issues and the office is divided, consider another opportunity and leave feedback after the interview.

2. Change the Subject

When someone invades your space at work and doesn't talk about anything else, bring up the report you're working on, the big game last night, the latest summer blockbuster movie or the weather. Political talk doesn't have to dominate your day. If the other person doesn't get the clue, there are always noise-cancelling headphones to let you regain your focus at your computer.

3. Avoid Confrontations

You believe you're right and your colleagues are wrong, and there is nothing the matter with that. Understand that everyone has an educated opinion and yours may not be the same as others' in the office. Instead of getting into heated political talk, take the high road and simply don't try to influence someone's opinion. Work is not the place to try to sway a person's ideals from one side to another.

4. Don't Take Political Talk Personally

Don't take political discussions personally. Politics is a hot-button issue, and it continues to be at the forefront of people's minds because divisive politics are in the news media on a nearly constant basis. Instead, find common ground with your co-workers in other ways. Consider talking about family, sports, the competition or other issues at work.

5. Be Forthright

If your co-workers still feel like talking politics around you, be forthright with them and say you simply prefer not to participate in political discussions. There's nothing illegal about discussing politics at work due to free speech protections, but human resources may intervene and say what is appropriate and what isn't. Some issues get close to discrimination, such as talking about immigration policies that could devolve into a racial or ethnic issues. Discussing race is not allowed at the office as it's a form of discrimination.

6. Wait It Out

Presidents are only in office four years at a time. Eventually, the political climate may change. You can always wait it out until the next presidential election, when things will hopefully get better. Don't sabotage your current network by bringing politics into your personal brand, because those relationships last longer than a four-year term in the White House.

Political talk is stronger than ever at the office. Try not to get involved, if at all possible, with these six ways to deal with these often-heated discussions.

Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey at Flickr.com


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Reynold R. thanks for your comment. During the past election, actual fights broke out in some workplaces between those for Clinton and those for Trump. The best way to keep that tension out of the workplace is not to allow it. You can discuss your political views outside of your work but it shouldn't be part of your day to day discussions.

  • Reynold R.
    Reynold R.

    Why do people "feel tense or threatened when they hear or engage in political discussions at the office"? This is a sign of a decayed democracy. Democracy depends on the free flow of ideas. When people don't discuss politics democracy suffers. How are we going to get to know our neighbours' opinions if we don't ask? Since we spend more time at work than at almost any other activity the workplace is an ideal place for discussion. I suspect the discouragement of political discussion in the workplace has something to do with employers' fears that if workers become informed they'll organize to stand up against oppression.

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