As the primary races heat up, many of us are getting more and more engaged in the upcoming election. This election cycle, in particular, has given us a lot to think about, and a lot to talk about, too. But, the standard rule for discussing politics at work is pretty simple – just don’t do it, ever. Here are a few good reasons to consider taking that principle seriously.
(Photo Credit: Richard Masoner/Flickr)
1. The workplace is not your soapbox.
Sometimes, we get excited about politics and speak about it more animatedly, and more adamantly, than we meant to when we began. You might know that it isn’t a good idea to use your workplace as your personal soapbox, but think that you can speak about the upcoming election with co-workers in a removed, relaxed, and totally appropriate way.
Well, chances are – you can’t. Once the discussion gets going, you might find yourself getting carried away, espousing your position and views with passion and gusto. Before you know it, you’ve crossed the line. Work is not the right venue to air your personal political opinions. Don’t start rolling that snowball down the hill when you know, deep down, it’s likely to run away from you.
2. Politics divides.
Collaboration might be more important than ever in today’s workplaces. The ability to communicate effectively and come together to solve problems and meet goals is essential. Politics can be a very divisive topic, alienating workers from each other ideologically in a way that can be pretty tough to repair. In order to stay peacefully on the same page and feeling like a team, save the political discussions for your personal time.
3. You could be seen as a bully or worse…
You could be viewed as a bully, by co-workers or even your boss, if you discuss politics at work. This is especially true if a large majority of employees feel similarly. When politics are being discussed, this can isolate and even humiliate the few who hold a different position. Soon, you could start to look like a real bully to the people you work with. These discussions could even make employees feel discriminated against.
“You have to make sure these discussions don’t run afoul,” says Andrew Maskowitz a partner at the law firm Pashman. “If someone states that a candidate is too old to be in office, for instance, it could be age discrimination. In general, [political discussions in the office] is a minefield for employers.”
You might think that your first amendment right to freedom of speech protects you from being fired for expressing your political views at work. But, if your company has a written policy that states these views shouldn’t be discussed, that’s not true. Although the rules vary by state, institution, and the nature of the discussion itself, it seems like it would be a good idea to avoid such topics all together in order to avoid potentially heavy consequences.
Tell Us What You Think
Do you think it’s OK to discuss politics at work? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.