Talk­ing pol­i­tics at work

Daily Press (Sunday) - - Success - By Todd Nord­strom

To­day's world can of­ten feel as though we're all walk­ing on eggshells. It's no se­cret that we're liv­ing in a po­lit­i­cally po­lar­ized world.

Peo­ple are pas­sion­ate about the po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion now, and I've of­ten been asked how to deal with the 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?

Be warned 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. We also may run afoul of hu­man re­sources if we in­sult oth­ers' opin­ions and ap­pear to be ha­rass­ing co-work­ers who don't share our views.

Here are eight sim­ple rules you should con­sider be­fore you ei­ther ex­press your pas­sion­ate opin­ions at work, or re­spond to op­pos­ing view­points. work­ing on a pro­ject with a group of peo­ple and they haven't talked about pol­i­tics, there's prob­a­bly a good rea­son: They ei­ther dis­agree with you, they are un­cer­tain how you feel, or they sim­ply don't be­lieve pol­i­tics should be part of the con­ver­sa­tion at work.

The safe bet is to keep your con­ver­sa­tions fo­cused on work, fam­ily, friends and week­end ac­tiv­i­ties in such sit­u­a­tions. If you re­ally feel the need to blurt out some­thing about what's hap­pen­ing in the news, ask your co-worker if he or she is both­ered by that.

Shar­ing opin­ions can be dicey

Every­one be­lieves they're right when it comes to po­lit­i­cal dis­cus­sion. They have the free­dom to form their own opin­ions.

You need to think about the po­ten­tial fall­outs you might have in re­la­tion­ships at work if you find your­self in dis­agree­ment with a co-worker. Sure, you might sit on op­pos­ing sides of the aisle, but you're still re­quired to work to­gether and get the job done.

Your com­pany may have rules against post­ing po­lit­i­cal con­tent on so­cial me­dia ac­counts and may even frown on po­lit­i­cal dis­cus­sions at work.

Be care­ful what you say

and be re­spect­ful of oth­ers.

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 sit and lis­ten.

Other peo­ple will re­spect the fact that you re­spect them enough to hear their points. And, you might ac­tu­ally see things from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive as well.

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.

Just be­cause some­one doesn't agree with you po­lit­i­cally doesn't mean he or she is bad at his or her job, and it doesn't mean you can't work with that per­son.

You have rea­sons you think the way you do, and so do es he or she. None of those rea­sons should af­fect the qual­ity of the work you can pro­duce to­gether.

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.

Al­though the po­lit­i­cal cy­cles can of­ten make ev­ery de­ci­sion feel like im­pend­ing doom, it's im­por­tant to re­main calm and un­der­stand that democ­racy of­ten is self-cor­rec­tive, not just for the last elec­tion, or the next elec­tion, but over the long haul.

You won't like some changes. Co-work­ers won't like some changes. The pen­du­lum will con­tinue to swing in both di­rec­tions.

It may be hard to be­lieve but some of the peo­ple you dis­agree with the most about pol­i­tics are likely 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.

Re­al­ize this: You don't have to agree with every­one with whom you work, but you must be re­spect­ful of oth­ers.

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. Todd Nord­strom is the con­tent di­rec­tor for the O.C. Tan­ner In­sti­tute and the host of the Great Work In­sights pod­cast.


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