How to Handle Political Discussions in the Office

Kerry Wekelo Elam
March 14, 2017

We are taught that we should not talk about politics or religion in the workplace; however, as our nation is faced with intense political divide and the media streaming negativity, it is only natural that political discussions are showing up at work again.

As humans, we desire connections and want to talk about our worldly concerns. But what happens when we realize that a friend or colleague belongs to a different political party, or supports ideas we do not believe in? It can be challenging not to judge them for their differing views causing unnecessary tension and stress. If instead, we intentionally choose how and with whom to have our political discussions, we can still maintain those bonds.

This article will explore why and how to navigate the rocky waters of handling political conversations at work: in project team rooms, water coolers, the break rooms, elevators, bathrooms, and even when simply walking down the hall.

Just Say No: Why Not Have Political Discussions at Work

First, let’s explore reasons for choosing to not discuss politics in work (and work-related) settings:

How To Gracefully Handle Political Discussions At Work

Of course, keeping political conversations away from the office is easier said than done; they will inevitably show up. Therefore, below are some tips to help you stay grounded and graceful when conversations turn to politics:

To limit the impact of the current political landscape’s negativity, try to focus on the areas that matter most to you, and choose carefully when and where you step into the political sea. Also, remember the importance of using your safe circle to discuss your political views.

An old fable to call upon is the one that encourages us to ask ourselves three important questions before we speak: Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary? Let’s all take that filter to our political conversations at work and beyond.

Further Reading