Keeping a good working relationship with the other people in the office is vital in today’s workplace. However, what if you can’t avoid talking about politics? If a new law has been passed that affects your business’s model or customer base, you may need to navigate this minefield.
How? It’s not as impossible as it sounds, as long as everyone acts like a respectful adult when opinions differ. You may not be able to control how Greg from Accounting reacts, but you can approach this from the best possible angle. Here are six simple tips:
Keep a Cool Head
Take a deep breath before diving in. Talking politics in the office is notorious for sending tempers flaring, but it can also be some of the most productive conversations you’ll ever have. You can help sketch out business strategies, find common ground in workplace rules, and even develop a deeper understanding of your colleagues. Approach this as a respectful conversation; leave the soapbox at home.
Stand by Your Opinions; Respect Their Opinions
You are going into this conversation with co-workers that you respect, even if their opinions are different, right? If you’re joining an ongoing discussion, start off on the right foot by asking if you can give them a different perspective. This non-confrontational way of approaching the topic will help keep from ruffling any feathers. Then, stand up for what you believe in kindly yet firmly. You can be diplomatic without sugarcoating your opinions.
One way to keep tempers from flaring too much is to stay narrowly focused on the topic at hand. Look at how current politics or a possible future law will affect your business. Don’t stray to hot-button political issues like abortion or immigration unless they are actually, directly related to the company’s future.
Accept That You Won’t Change Anyone’s Mind
For many people, their politics tie into a wide. array of deeply held beliefs. You are unlikely to change their mind about anything. In fact, it’s not professional to try. You and the others are all in the workplace to accomplish your job. This conversation should stay on that topic, not stray into broader, philosophical differences.
Look For the Middle Ground
Although you can’t change anyone’s mind, you can look for compromises. There are plenty of win-win scenarios available when two or more people come to the table with open minds and a sincere desire to solve problems. In this case, talking politics is just a starting point to discuss the challenges and opportunities the current political and legal climate offers your company.
Walk Away (Verbally)
When discussing politics, the first person to start shouting ‘loses.’ Don’t let that be you. If things are veering off-track or you feel your blood pressure spiking, have a prepared excuse to end the conversation. You can mention you’ve got paperwork to do, table the discussion for tomorrow, or just be honest and say that everyone seems to be getting agitated and it’s time to move on.
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