You might have heard something about an election of some sort taking place in November. As the 2016 US presidential election approaches, it’s almost inevitable that there will be more and more chatter in the office about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (and maybe even Jill Stein and Gary Johnson too).
For some people, this uptick in political debate won’t matter at all. They simply don’t care about politics. But then, of course, there are those die-hard political enthusiasts who will debate point after point after point.
Rule number one: Don’t be the person who’s known for talking to everyone they encounter about politics every chance they get. In fact, you’d be wise to do your best to not talk about politics in the workplace. But if you’re increasingly confronted by colleagues who love talking politics, keep these four tips in mind:
Nobody Is Forcing You to Talk Politics
No matter how much someone might try to egg you on into political discussion, you certainly don’t have to talk about politics if you don’t want to. If a coworker begins a discussion about the upcoming election, you can always let them know that you’d prefer not to talk politics or maybe even fib and say you haven't been paying attention the race. No harm, no foul. If they’re a reasonable person, they’ll respect your boundaries.
Everyone Is Entitled to Their Own Opinion
Despite what ideologues would have you believe, there is no right or wrong answer in politics. If there were a perfect system of governance and a perfect political ideology, the world would be a much different place. If you do get into a political discussion, remember that you don’t always have to see eye to eye on every issue.
Keep Your Emotions in Check
Some people are incredibly passionate about politics, and there’s nothing inherently wrong about that. For whatever reason, politics is one of the taboo subjects where disagreements can often lead to behavior that’s quite frankly juvenile. In the throes of a heated debate, a person might end up saying things they regret. Do everything within your power to make sure you don’t turn into that person.
Debating Politics Isn’t Productive
You show up to work to do a job — not talk about who the better president would be. Workers who get caught up in heated political discussions aren’t exactly able to tackle their job responsibilities simultaneously. If you ever need to get out of a political conversation, remind your coworker that you’re extremely busy. Suggest you’ll finish the talk later after you tackle your work — even if you have no intention to.
If it’s at all possible, you should do your best to avoid talking about politics with your coworkers — inside the office and outside of it. Even if you’re the most talented orator of all time, you may still be unable to get your political adversaries to agree with your beliefs.
There’s no sense in diving into a heated political conversation at the workplace. Not much good can come of it. Best case? You get one person to vote for your candidate. Worst case? You create new enemies. And you don’t want a new enemy that you’ll have to face for eight hours a day, five days a week.
So keep your politics to yourself when you can. And when you’re confronted by someone else’s political beliefs, do your best to simply nod your head and smile.