GUEST COMMENTARY BY DEBRA FINE
“Who are you voting for?”
“Trump will never win.”
“Are you a Democrat or Republican?”
“Do you have liberal or conservative views?”
“You are wasting your vote on Bernie.”
These are all questions and statements filling our homes, and social networks. And now, with one of the most controversial election years in decades, political debates are likely infiltrating the office, making it more important than ever to be wise about your political comments. Here are some tips to remember when entering into political talks at work.
Know your audience. If you engage in a political conversation with a co-worker, make sure you have an idea of his/her position. If you aren’t sure, try asking a more open-ended question that may elicit a defining response: “What are you thoughts on the election?” Tailor your comments to be non-offensive and not permanently damaging.
▪ Know your stuff. Be prepared with accurate information about current political happenings so you project credibility.
▪ Debate facts, not feelings. Keep emotionally-driven statements out of your political discussion and stick to hard facts. This way, you don’t hurt anyone’s feelings and your own feelings don’t get harmed. You will be less vulnerable in the end.
▪ Respect! Respect yourself, your political candidates, your co-workers, your co-workers’ opinions, and your job. Always be thoughtful of what you say and how you say it.
▪ Speak up or shut up. There’s no harm in tastefully expressing your views, but don’t feel pressured to share your thoughts. Just make a personal decision to talk or not talk about it up front and stick with it. Flip-flopping makes you a target for confrontation.
▪ Listen to what is being said. A powerful political conversation has two sides. Take time to hear what your co-worker says, and appreciate his/her opinion. Ask questions you think will enhance the dialog. Listening can often crystallize own views.
▪ Know when to back down, turn around, and walk away. Think before you speak. If you feel like the conversation is getting too intense or uncomfortable, excuse yourself. Read body language to help keep your comments in check.
▪ Agree to disagree. It’s fun to have stimulating political banter, but if you agree to disagree upfront, it can be more entertaining and less destructive.
▪ Remember, you’re on the same side. At the end of the day, you work for the same company with the same end goal, so don’t let political conversations interfere with your productivity and work relationships.
▪ Know the company’s policies. Know what is and isn’t allowed in the way of political expressions (i.e., sending out political emails or hanging signs), and adhere to management requests.
Debra Fine is a keynote speaker and trainer, and the bestselling author of The Fine Art of Small Talk. Visit her online at www.DebraFine.com.