It’s natural for employees to have non-work-related conversations while on the job. But you should always be careful about which topics you discuss. Talking about politics is never a good idea. People are passionate about their beliefs, and a difference in opinion could quickly turn into harmful employee interactions.
Why Should I Avoid Talking Politics at Work?
Politics were once a topic that people rarely discussed with outsiders or mere acquaintances. Cultural changes, however, have made political discussions more common. It’s important to stay engaged with current events and connect with your coworkers. However, politics is not the best way to accomplish those goals.
Your coworkers might feel strongly about their political leanings. Bringing up controversial issues can quickly lead to heated, unproductive arguments. In extreme cases, these arguments can lead to workplace harassment, defamation, physical assaults, and potentially, termination.
Shifts in Workplace Dynamics Fuel Political Talks
In the past, discussing politics at work was not commonplace. New research shows people are now more comfortable talking about politics on the job. One survey of 3,000 workers by the research firm Perceptyx found that nearly 70 percent of respondents reported discussing politics at work. More than 40 percent of those surveyed said they’ve had political disagreements with a coworker.
In some ways, this shift towards political discussion at work is a good thing. According to the survey, 70 percent of respondents said their employer encouraged them to vote. In addition, 65 percent of those surveyed said their employer gave them time off to vote.
However, there are also adverse outcomes associated with political talk at work. About 46 percent of survey respondents said they felt they’d be treated differently if their boss had different political views from them. More than half of those surveyed believed talking about politics could hurt their careers. For this reason, it’s advisable to save the political talk for outside of the office.
What to Do When Others Are Talking Politics
Here are some tips for what to do if your coworkers are talking about politics:
- Politely disengage from conversations — If someone asks your opinion on a political subject, stay out of the conversation. It’s the best way to avoid any potential negative consequences from voicing your beliefs.
- Address comments that cross the line — Polite discussion is acceptable at work. However, all employees should feel safe and respected. If someone says something that crosses a line, no matter their beliefs, address the comment respectfully and then shift the conversation to a different topic.
- Speak to your employer if things get too heated — If you can sense that a political discussion is turning ugly, talk to your supervisor as soon as possible. You don’t want the argument to erupt into physical violence.
Contact the Employment and Consumer Law Group Today
Are you being harassed or discriminated against because of your political beliefs? You could have a legal claim. If so, contact the experienced Tennessee attorneys at Employment and Consumer Law Group today for a free initial consultation. Our Nashville-based law firm focuses exclusively on protecting employee rights and holding employers accountable for violations of federal and state employment laws. Call us today.