I remember when I was a teenager, my mom came home from work and told me the following phrase after a workplace melee: “Never discuss politics or religion in the office.”
That phrase has stuck with me as an adult. In the office, it is easy during water cooler conversations and downtime to strike up conversations that are not suitable for work. Discussions that cause heated exchanges, passionate rebuttals and the like can make the workplace a tense place to be. It can also turn into a personal disagreement.
My mother’s advice still rings true today. Politics and religion, when working with different people of all religious and political affiliations, is a hot bed of drama. The office is not the type of place for those type of discussions. You need to steer clear.
Here are five ways that you can avoid polarizing topics in the office:
- Give a disclaimer- If someone brings up a topic that makes you uncomfortable or that can cause a debate that has nothing to do with the office, let the person or people know that you are not down to discuss such issues. If it continues, simply walk away and remove yourself from the situation.
- Do Not Forward Political or Situation Biased Emails- Emails that are hot bed topics with political and religious or sexual in nature should not be forwarded around the office. These types of emails only anger those who the email is targeting and is not considered professional office behavior. It also may be against your office policy.
- Birds of a Feather- Usually boisterous and aggressive people flock together. Also those with like minds and similar thoughts on current issues gravitate towards one another. Avoidance of being associated with these groups will usually help keep you out of the fray, and keep the polarizing topics from knocking on your door.
- Opinionated Much? I am just as opinionated as the next person but when it comes to the office, I do not let my opinions be known when it comes to religion and politics. People can assume what party I belong to, but I do not ever give leeway for my coworkers to discuss it with me. if its not about work or a possible lighthearted discussion, I do not take part.
- Think Fast- You may be brought into a heated topic without even knowing it. Make sure you are fast on your feet and make clear that you do not want to be involved. Remove yourself from the discussion. The faster, the better. And if the problem has gotten too out of hand, speak with management.
Office debates can be great when they are about office issues and business only. But when it becomes personal, it can get out of hand quickly. Act fast, use the tips above to help remove yourself from the situation.