Before you open your mouth, think about who you are talking to. Odds are that you already have a good idea who they support if you think about it. If you’re not sure, start the conversation with a question about what they think of the candidates.
If you have facts supporting your position, make sure they’re accurate and not just talking points or oversimplifications that came from some source you agree with. Getting stuck in a “well, I heard”/“no, I heard” argument gets no one anywhere and just leads to negative feelings.
Once a political discussion gets into emotions, things can blow up fast. Try to stick to actual issues and facts to avoid people getting hurt.
This is always true, but especially important when you’re talking politics. Afford the other person — and their judgment — your respect. Choose your words carefully and with this respect in mind. Don’t talk down to them or things will go off the rails fast.
You don’t have to get involved in the conversation at all, but if you decide it’s important to you, go ahead and express your opinions bravely. Changing your position mid-conversation — unless, of course, someone really does change your mind — just makes you seem like you have no real views of your own.
In your rush to get out your next point, it can be all too easy to not really hear what others are saying. Give others your full attention to avoid misunderstandings. If you combine that with respect, you may learn something you didn’t know.
Don’t let things get nasty. If you feel like things are spiraling out of control, politely walk away — after all, you do have work to do, and that’s a perfect excuse to which no one can take offense.
If you agree at the outset that you’ll never see eye to eye, you can have an entertaining time hearing what others think without feeling you have to dispute their point of view.
When the conversation’s over, you’ll still be coworkers (only the truly brave talk politics with their boss) and you’ll still be at the same company. Don’t let things get so heated that your work relationship is jeopardized.
Some companies don’t allow employees to get political in company emails or on company premises, so it’s a good idea to know where yours stands. It’s unlikely that hanging political posters or making other visual statements will make the environment more peaceful, in any event.
It’s actually one of your responsibilities as a citizen to stay informed, have a political opinion, and vote accordingly. It could even be argued that you’re supposed to talk over issues with people you respect as part of that process. And it can be done without damaging productivity. Just be respectful, though. Listen, exchange ideas, and don’t forget to vote.