How To Talk Politics At Work

Congratulations on your candidate winning!  Condolences for your candidate losing!  Either way, you most likely have some incredibly strong opinions on the results of our most recent election and can’t wait to share them with your coworkers.  Nothing better than a little off-topic conversation to break up the monotony of the workday, right?  Except that politics is one of the most dividing topics in the workplace (and the country), and bragging about how your candidate just dunked all over the opposition can offend your coworkers, employees, or your manager, none of which is doing you any favors.  So before you start talking to everyone at work about why the country is saved/screwed, check out the OfficeThermostat guide to political conversations in the office:

Rule #1:  Don’t Talk Politics At Work

Seriously, it’s a waste of time, so don’t bother.  Unless you work at one of those golf courses that prides itself on not letting women join, you will almost certainly offend a coworker.  There is a 100% certainty that the coworker that you’ve only interacted with through head nods and awkward bathroom small talk is a power user on some online fringe political community, and that person can’t wait to unload on you with a whole bunch of crazy conspiracy theories.

Remember that no one is actually looking to have an open-minded debate or to have their opinion changed when they talk politics in the office, they just want to be agreed with or win an argument.

Rule #2:  Test The Waters

Don’t come out the gate with too much of an opinion.  Instead, start the discussion with something open-ended, like “wow, can you believe the results?” and gauge your coworkers’ responses.  For example, if everyone responds about how the wrong person won and what time they’re meeting to protest voter discrimination, then you need to be a bit more nuanced on how you show your excitement.  If it’s clear your political views put you on an island, just nod, smile, and get back to work.  Keep an eye out for any coworkers that react similarly, and then chat with them about the results separately and away from the group.  You just made a friend at the office that you can talk politics with!  You’re only a couple of lunch dates away from casually discussing drug use.

Rule #3:  Don’t Shout Catchphrases

Shouting “Lock Her Up!”, “Build The Wall!”, “#MeToo!”, is a great way to announce that you’re just looking to pick a fight on an issue that you’ve mainly digested through Facebook memes.  You’ve also most likely fallen for Russian propoganda.  And your computer probably has a virus because you’ll click anything.

Rule #4:  If Your Candidate Won, Show Some Tact

It doesn’t matter if the majority of the office agrees with you.  Even if your candidate won, things are still all honked up (official political term).  Any new policies will take time to implement, so don’t start bragging about how America is fixed now only to find out that North Dakota and South Dakota have declared war on each other next week.

Rule #5:  If Your Candidate Lost, Do Your Job

Thanks to an incredibly polarized political climate, there’s almost zero chance that anyone will accept their candidate’s loss with  a willingness to see how the other side takes charge; that would be too rational.  Instead, focus on your work and avoid doing things like:

  • Denying the utter possibility that your political opinion isn’t nationally accepted
  • Demanding an investigation into Russian/Chinese/Puerto Rican collusion
  • Spending your day on Reddit in a political echo chamber
  • Attacking Taylor Swift and Kanye West on social media for not doing enough/doing too much (unless it’s about the drop in quality in their music, go nuts)

You’re too angry and taking things too personally, so just bury yourself in work for the next eight hours.  Or four years, whichever.

Rule #6:  Keep The Peace

This applies to bystanders, especially managers.  Political debates all follow the same general steps:

  1. We are having an open-minded discussion!
  2. We are now disagreeing, but trying to still find a middle ground!
  3. We are now disagreeing and attacking each other’s views personally!
  4. We are now actually attacking each other with nearby weapons!

It’s a lot easier to see steps three and four coming from the sidelines, so don’t expect the actual involved parties to pick up on subtle social cues to back off, such as the other person crying.

Unless of course there’s a possibility the argument gets so heated that the coworker you can’t stand might actually quit over it, in which case just put on some headphones, eavesdrop as it only gets worse, and start making the most out of an awful election.

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