How to Navigate Political Discussions at Work

How to Navigate Political Discussions at Work

Emotions are running high this election season and political discussions are finding their way into everyday life—including at work. A recent survey by CareerBuilder shows that 1 in 5 workers have been involved in heated office debates over the race between Clinton and Trump, and with Election Day just a few months down the road, these conversations will only become more prevalent.

So what’s the proper etiquette when it comes to talking politics at work? Your goal should be to always show respect toward your coworkers—even those with opposing political views. With that in mind, take a look at these four guidelines for navigating this election season and beyond in the office.

  1. Understand company policies
    Before launching into a Clinton vs. Trump conversation with your teammate or decorating your cubicle with campaign paraphernalia, take time to understand your company rules on the matter. It’s possible that your employer prohibits things like campaigning in the office, which could include wearing political clothing, sending political emails to coworkers, etc.
  2. Be professional
    If political topics are broached, make sure your involvement in the conversation is friendly, respectful, and non-confrontational. Remember that everything you say and do (whether inside or outside of the office) could reflect on you as a professional. Furthermore, it’s never appropriate to talk politics at work events or client meetings where you are acting as a representative of your company.
  3. Avoid touchy issues
    Conversation is one thing, but political debates or arguments should always be avoided. It’s best to completely stay away from highly controversial issues (think abortion or same-sex marriage). If you feel like a casual discussion is getting heated or confrontational, politely excuse yourself and walk away.
  4. Own up to bad behavior
    If you ever find yourself in a situation where you’ve disrespected a coworker’s political views, take it as a sign that it’s time to tone it down on the political chatter. Do your best to smooth things over with the other party by taking the time to personally apologize for your behavior and finding a way to mend your professional relationship.

Talking politics in the workplace is a sensitive subject. The safest route is to avoid getting involved in political discussions altogether. It may seem impossible to stay silent at work when it comes to your political views—especially when faced with such a tumultuous election season—but it could also save you from ruining the professional relationships you’ve worked so hard to build with your coworkers and company.


Posted on September 20, 2016

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