July 17th, 2008

Tips to Avoid Heated Political Debates at Work

by Jacqueline Whitmore

By: Jorie Scholnik, Guest Blogger

The presidential election in November is just around the corner and between the news coverage, public debates and television ads, people are forming strong opinions about both candidates. While it is complimentary to be knowledgeable about the election and both candidates’ positions, there is a time and place to discuss such matters.

Below are some guidelines about when to steer clear of talking politics and how to avoid a possible confrontation:

1. To avoid possible confrontations, it’s best to refrain from heated debates with coworkers. It can be uncomfortable for coworkers if they feel obligated to vote a certain way because their boss or industry strongly supports one candidate over another. Also, don’t be argumentative and pressure others to justify their choice.

2. Don’t solicit campaign contributions at work. Doing this may put your coworkers in an awkward position as they may not want to contribute, let alone support the candidate of your choice.

3. It is okay to keep silent. If you are uncomfortable discussing politics, politely change the subject or excuse yourself from the conversation. However, if you and your friends feel comfortable talking about the subject, then go ahead. Refrain from coercing people into talking about their candidate of choice if they would rather not discuss it in public. If a person dodges the question once, then it’s best not to bring up the topic again.

4. Don’t be condescending if someone doesn’t know as much about the election or the issues surrounding it. It is commendable to know your facts about the candidates but some people may not be as interested in the process.

5. Respectfully disagree. Remember that everyone is entitled to his/her opinion and you shouldn’t belittle what others believe. There are nice ways to disagree without insulting the other person’s stance such as keeping everything in a conversational tone and letting people finish their thoughts. When you don’t agree, simply say, “I guess we should just agree to disagree on this subject.”

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