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Election Debates in the Workplace

The campaign rhetoric has reached a fevered pitch. As political news dominates the headlines, it will inevitably spill over into workplace conversations. How can you avoid disruptive and divisive discord among your team? Here are some tips:

Be Proactive. Be strategic about addressing political discussion before it becomes an issue. Consider sending out an email to your employees reaffirming that your office is one where all viewpoints are valued, but not all conversations are constructive. Political beliefs are deeply held and discussions should be kept within bounds of what can be discussed civilly. Reiterate that in an increasingly divided political landscape, your employees are all on one team: your company.

  1. Lead by example. Set the tone for respectful dialogue in the way you discuss news and issues. Allow calm, respect, and thoughtfulness to be your trademarks.

  2. Solicit buy-in. If one or two members of your team are continually at the center of heated debates, don’t be afraid to go to them personally and in a one-on-one conversation ask for their help to keep workplace conversations away from controversial topics. Some individuals genuinely enjoy debates—even heated ones—and don’t realize the stress it can add to environments.

Here are some of our favorite comments to nip potentially explosive situation in the bud:

  • “That’s a complicated issue that a lot of people see differently.”

  • “I try and stay away from politics at work.”

  • “This is obviously an issue you care a lot about. I respect your passion, even if we come from different angles.”

What successes—and failures—have you had with political conversations at work?