Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock lately, you’re well aware that election season is upon us. In fact, chances are you’ve participated in a few discussions on this topic – perhaps even in the workplace. While a little discourse and debate can be healthy for workers, when it comes to politics, things can go from healthy to heated in a matter of seconds. According to new study from CareerBuilder, 3 in 10 employers have argued with a co-worker over a particular political candidate this election season, and 1 in 5 workers have done the same. Such conflict can be particularly hard at a small business, where it’s harder to avoid those co-workers who insist on talking politics.
While you may be tempted to ban political talk altogether at the office, such actions could make employees uneasy. Fifty percent of employees in the survey said they feel their office has become too politically correct, and a third (33 percent) say they are afraid to voice certain opinions because they feel they may not be considered politically correct. Nearly the same number of workers (34 percent) say this level of political correctness has hindered business, because it forces people to “tip-toe” around issues instead of addressing them head on and making people afraid to speak their minds.
5 Ways to Keep the Peace with Political Talk
So what is a small business manager to do? Remind your employees that while they are entitled to their opinions, they should respect the opinions of others. Follow these guidelines – and encourage your employees to do the same – to promote a healthy and civil political discourse at the office.
- Promote a culture of respect. Remind your employees to keep conversations respectful and stay open-minded. Make it clear that everyone’s opinions and ideas are welcomed and accepted, no matter how different they may be from another person’s.
- Find things to agree on. Encourage employees to discussing facts and values they can agree upon, which will help ensure the conversation remains respectful.
- Deal only with the facts. Remind your employees to stick to the facts when discussing the candidates. Exaggerating and spinning facts are common ways to start an argument.
- Step in. While you may not want to hinder your employees from stating their opinions, if you find that political talk has gotten so negative that it is hurting productivity and/or overall morale, you are well within your rights to step in and change the topic to something more neutral or put an end to the discussion altogether.
- Set an example. Adhere to these guidelines yourself, and your employees likely will follow suit.
How do you promote peaceful political discourse at your workplace? Tweet me at @cbpetej
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