From another conversation about impeachment to recent events of domestic terrorism to the U.S. Capitol, there are tons of reasons why political conversations in the workplace are toxic. It’s addicting to talk about, and feeds into the concept of tearing each other apart in a professional environment. Despite what’s going on with the U.S. government, this can also apply to other countries who deal with similar issues in the workplace.
According to the American Psychological Association, 1 in 4 young employees have reported to be negatively compelled at work due to political discussions at work. Clearly, talking about politics does indeed trigger less productivity, but it can also be detrimental to your entire work environment. Today, we’ll cover nine different ways to manage a team that has different political views.
Tips on Handling Political Discussions at Work
We know that this political climate can be a controversial time, especially during a pandemic. Hopefully, these nine different solutions can help diffuse political discussions at work and allow your team to mainly focus on getting work done efficiently.
Pivot the Conversation
As my father would say, “don’t go into that situation.” In other words, think ahead before involving yourself in a situation that’s bound to go wrong. Choosing any other topic other than politics will help you prevent an unnecessary argument. Why not talk about what’s for lunch today rather than what’s going on with the government? Any question will do. Just veer away from bringing up politics.
Read the Room
You want to acknowledge tensions as they arise. The first step to put a stop to a bad conversation is to recognize social cues and body language of everyone involved. If you know that one coworker isn’t having it, then try to mediate the situation. The most important thing is that everyone goes back to work since it’s a distraction that can be put aside until the end of the work day.
Limit Conversation Engagements
This could be a hard one to do but limiting your conversations with other members of your team will increase workflow and productivity. Engage conversations relevant to work topics. This can ease the discussions about politics, and possibly get work done if everyone communicates effectively.
(Also Read: What are the Five Generations in the Workplace?)
Understand the Informality of This Network
Political conversations in general are messy. To keep it from getting any messier, recognize the informalities of the entire network within your team. Observe the purposes to this type of network, and then handle the entire situation from there. Familiarizing yourself with informal networks will help you improve the entire concept of managing a team.
Modify Your Body Language
Physical altercations are definitely unacceptable in any professional workplace. Modifying body language will lessen any sort of initiation to aggressive communication. Being volatile towards team members will absolutely prolong productivity and possibly create more miscommunications along the way.
Teach your team about boundaries. Harassing or gossiping about another member in the workplace shouldn’t be tolerated. Encouraging respect can help your team realize self-worth and being self-aware of situations that can be deemed as inappropriate and unprofessional in the workplace, such as political conversations.
Show Respect to Others
Treat others the way you want to be treated. It’s that simple. If you show respect in the office and not get into it with political conversations, then you’re on the right path to managing your team just fine. Lead your team with a courteous outlook in the workplace.
Everyone should be accountable for their actions. Encourage self-reflection to your team members. Advise them to think about their own character and how they can show the best version of themselves in a professional work environment. Human self-reflection helps with finding inner peace with oneself, which is why it’s crucial that members with different political views mustn’t influence their own political differences onto others.
In the end, politics is the subject that can either tear people apart or bring them together. Although it would be the former rather than the latter in this situation, staying politically neutral is the best practice to diffuse a political argument at work. Understand where people are coming from when conversations about comparing one political party to another comes up. The last situation you ever want to encounter in a workplace is the same exact event happening during a holiday family gathering the last time politics was ever brought up.
Politics can be an addicting topic to talk about. However, when it comes to discussing politics in the workplace, that’s where discussions should be shut down. It’s important that team managers and leads become aware of these types of discussions to prevent any unwanted situations from occurring.
Think about understanding where your coworkers are coming from. Politics is a frustrating subject to talk about. Nonetheless, it’s a factor that plays into toxic work environments. In retrospect, successfully managing a team that has different views on politics is a rewarding sign. It lets you obtain the ability to control a professional work environment.