September 5, 2008

Politics + Co-Workers(or clients) + Watercooler = Debacle

Posted in In the news, Personally..., Political Punditry tagged at 10:37 pm by R

It’s the touchy season that arrives every four years, the presidential election. People are talking politics everywhere, in meetings, at the coffee shop, over dinner and, of course, in the office.

But how to handle all of those inevitable political discussions appropriately? Do you engage in the conversation at all? If you do, how much do you reveal about your political self and beliefs?

I believe those conversations are important to have. Sometimes the best political pundit, is your book keeper or IT person. Every voters’ opinions have value and insight…but only if you allow them too.

I have two simple rules for weathering the next 60-some days:

  1. Respect Everyone’s Opinion – McCain supporter*, Obama supporter*, Paul supporter*, whatever the party line or candidate, do your best to respect and be open to the opinions your fellow Americans have.
  2. Listen Before Speaking – Don’t stir the pot with some snide Donkey or Elephant joke. Make sure you know the tone of the conversation before piping up with your position. You could just end up with an earful and some awkwardness if you’re not careful.

Basically, just be respectful and know when to zip it.

Other tips for navigating the political mind field:

  • If your client is a raging Right Wing Nut, don’t diss Alaska
  • If your colleague is The Angry Left, don’t diss community organizers
  • If your boss is a McCain supporter, don’t blare Wyclef’s “Yes We Can” in your office
  • If your regular barista is an Obama supporter, don’t hum Big & Rich’s “Rasin’ McCain” or else…

Your personal political positions send a message about who you are as a person. Be strategic about the messages you send in the workplace by being professional and deliberately respectful.

Nod your head in thoughtful contemplation as a client says, “McCain is the only way this country can run.” Even if you’re thinking, “Press bashing, senile, warmonger.”

Smile considerately when your colleague says, “Obama is the great hope for our country.” Even if you want to respond with, “Marxist, no experience, media-made celebutante!”

No matter how hard the moment is, remember you can immediately go rant to your Right Wing Nut/The Angry Left friends after exiting the conversation.

Your personal (professional) PR  is far more important than expressing views in a political tantrum. Plus, you may have to live it down November 5…

~Robyn

*For purposes of political fairness, candidates were listed alphabetically, all future party references were assigned in order of the original candidate’s alphabetical placement in the first reference.

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