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Politics and religion are usually off-limits when it comes to acceptable workplace conversation topics. But, with the presidential election looming, it will be hard to avoid getting involved in at least a few politically charged conversations. Workers must be sure to be careful about what they say in these conversations so as to not offend co-workers and put their own job at risk.
The trip to navigating the rough waters of political discourse is to make sure your conversations are fair and respectful. That's the advice of Roshini Rajkumar, a communication coach and president of the Roshini Performance Group, who said workers can avoid problems by remembering first and foremost that politics are a very personal matter in which people deeply believe.
Conversations that question these beliefs can create significant problems among co-workers. Therefore, workers must be sure to prevent their conversations from getting to the point where they become personal, so they do not negatively affect relationships at work and individual work performance. To avoid problems that can occur as a result of these conversations, Rajkumar recommends workers:
- "Allow your co-workers to speak without interrupting them."
- "Respect their opinion; even if it is different from yours. You will want them to do the same for you."
- "Be intentional with your communication. Make sure you have a point to the conversation and aren’t just trying to make small talk."
- "Ask follow-up questions. Find out why your co-worker believes what they believe."
- "Stay informed. You don’t want to be talking about a topic that is outdated. Not only is it old news, you will present yourself poorly on a topic that you may feel strongly about which can reduce your credibility."
- "Hold your emotions in check. If you cannot discuss a topic without hitting the boiling point, then avoid the political discussion. The same holds true if you are personally offended by opposing beliefs."
- "Know which political topics are off-limits in your office. Whether it is war or same-sex marriage, there are typically one or more issues that shouldn’t be discussed."
- "Do choose the right time for a political discussion. For example, during lunch or breaks, but not in the middle of a meeting or presentation."
- "Do think about how people might perceive you in your role at work if they knew your position on certain issues. Stay with political topics that won’t jeopardize your credibility."
Additionally, Rajkumar said workers must be careful to avoid the following behaviors while talking about politics at work Rajkumar said:
- "Don’t raise your voice. The moment people start cutting each other off and raising voices is the moment the conversation becomes an argument."
- "Don’t discuss politics with co-workers who like to start arguments or ruffle feathers."
- "Don’t fabricate replies or information. If you don’t know the answer to a question or can’t express why believe what you believe, don’t make something up. A fabricated answer may come back to haunt you and cause you to lose credibility among colleagues or superiors."
- "Don’t disagree just to disagree."
- "Don’t think less of people because of their political beliefs."
Reach BusinessNewsDaily staff writer David Mielach at Dmielach@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @D_M89.