Election season is here, and it is slated to be one of the most controversial ones in recent history, which can cause a lot of tension at work if discussing politics. Political talk should be avoided in the workplace, but it usually isn’t and can make workers feel uncomfortable, stressed out, distracted, and even bring up hostile feelings. According to Gartner Inc., 47% of employees report that the 2020 U.S. presidential election has impacted their ability to get work done.
If the topic does come up, how should employers guide their staff when discussing politics and how can they navigate these conversations? Karen Stafford, Arizona President of Employers Council, delineates the do’s and don’ts of talking the election in the workplace below:
• Set an intention to assume the best in the other person. Misunderstanding or misinterpreting another person can lead to unintended offense.
• Think (about the potential impact) before you speak.
• Understand your own emotional “hot buttons”
• Be a role model of civility
• Don’t make assumptions and judge others
• Don’t label people or name call – so unprofessional!
• Don’t forget, you are at work!
To avoid the conversation altogether, employees can ring it back to work and the task at hand or even shift to talking about the weather (“So, this weather we are having?” is a fairly common euphemism for, “hey, we’re treading in an uncomfortable place, so let’s shift the discourse and talk about something non-controversial”).