Managing Political Conversations in the Workplace

Given the current state of U.S. politics and the vast pool of opinions that come with it, it can be difficult keeping conversations regarding such a topic to a minimum. Political conversations are often those that spark arguments and tension in the workplace, which can directly harm your business, so paying attention to the rate at which these conversations are being held, and the type of responses that follow are important for you as a manager.

Though political conversations are easiest when avoided, silencing your staff’s opinions and desired topics of discussion deters their freedom of speech within the office. That being said, try and navigate this touchy subject delicately without compromising your best interest. In other words, allow these conversations to take place, but set a few limitations in place.

One of the best ways to steer clear of heated conversations is encouraging your employees to discuss the “bigger picture” rather than which party is right, and which is wrong. Having individuals talk about how certain problems affect them, and how they wish for them to be resolved is not only a way to avoid confrontational subjects, but it poses constructiveness, and allows others to see things from a different perspective.

It’s fairly easy for political conversations to escalate quickly, and with that, those engaged in these conversations are bound to make remarks before considering your business’s ethical standards. Ensure that all of your employees are reminded regularly of the respect that should be shared throughout the workplace, and to not make any comments that could be considered offensive or controversial. Instead, promote acceptance in every sense of the word. It’s important to consider others’ beliefs before discussing such a touchy subject, and accepting those beliefs when they are vastly different that one’s own.

While it is impossible to monitor every conversation going on within your office (which is also frowned upon), it is crucial to make sure that these discussions remain civil. Social cues are important to understand in order to cease conversations that are making those involved uncomfortable. Make sure your staff members are aware of these to avoid worsening the situation.

Political conversations can be difficult to navigate without something being said that offends one of the parties involved. As a manager, it’s important that you mitigate these situations, and avoid more controversial ones entirely. Though opinions should be shared among staff, there is a line that should not be crossed, with most of these topics best being left outside of work.

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