Talking politics at work? That may not be a good idea
With the presidential election just a couple of months away and the first presidential debate scheduled for Sept. 29, political discussions will most likely intensify at the office. But is it wise to engage in such water cooler talk?
A new Robert Half survey found 22% of workers thought it was acceptable to talk politics at work; 26% said it's never OK; and 53% said it depends on the situation.
Dora Onychak, a regional manager for the Robert Half staffing firm in Central Jersey, offered some tips on how to navigate the sticky political situation talk with colleagues.
Keep the conversation light and constructive. Be mindful with comments so as not to offend anyone or become confrontational.
If someone does not feel comfortable talking politics, they shouldn't feel pressured and should politely decline from partaking in such a conversation.
If a colleague does start a political conversation that makes someone feel uncomfortable, she said it's OK to pull that colleague aside and tell them how it made them feel.
The best advice Onyschak has: "Don't bring up politics. Steer clear. It's very easy in the climate that we're in on any political discussion for you to unintentionally offend a colleague."
Managers need to lead by example to make sure these discussions don't get out of hand. She said they should never get involved in those talks. If a manager walks in on such a discussion, especially a heated one, he or she needs to nip it in the bud. Employees tend to follow what their managers or leaders do.
What Onyschak found interesting about the survey is that younger respondents, ages 25 to 40, thought it was much more acceptable to talk about politics at work than their older colleagues. She believed it's because the younger generation is used to voicing their views so freely on social media.
More women than men thought it was inappropriate to discuss politics in the workplace. About 30% of women thought it was inappropriate as opposed to 20% of men who didn't think it was a good idea.