Politics – If you talk about the best way to discuss politics at work is not to discuss politics at all. But in a real world that’s not possible. When everyone around you is busy talking about the elections, the possibilities of future, then you being a co-worker should not be mum. There are two reasons for which you don’t speak when people around you at work talk about politics.
The first reason is maybe you don’t like politics much and there’s not much interest in knowing what’s going on the political world.
The second reason which may be the more apparent for your silence is you don’t know how to talk about politics at workplace or in public. Maybe you have had some bad experience trying to talk around people and the result was not that good.
If you have the first reason for which you don’t talk about politics, then it’s completely okay. But if you are keeping mum because you don’t know how to discuss politics at work, we will get you covered.
In this article we will articulate golden rules of discussing politics at work for you. Hang tight. We have something great to share with you.
#1. Learn to assume best in your co-workers
When you discuss politics at work, you start the topic and when someone talks against your opinion, you feel defensive and start attacking the person. Now you need to understand that she is different human being than you and she can have different opinion than you. The idea is not to judge a person through her opinion. When co-workers talk about politics, naturally there would be questions, answers, different opinions, disagreements, arguments and sometimes leaving the place completely. If these things happen while discussing politics at work, it’s completely okay.
All you need to do is not to assume the worst in people. They are human and they are imperfect. And they have different opinion and reaction. But that’s okay. Accept them as they are. When they blurt out their opinions about politics, it’s just a part of them, not the whole. And they’re saying what they’re saying because of their beliefs, values and ideas about what should happen. Keep an attitude of calmness and poise and learn to assume best in your co-workers while discussing politics.
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#2. Stay updated about the recent political affairs
How would you discuss politics if you are a completely ‘no-no’ about politics? To be part of a group which discusses politics in regular manner, you need to put some time and read about the current affairs in politics. Yes, we know that there are so many bad news out there, but you can use a filter and skip them. Read something that makes you feel positive or neutral at best. If they inject negativity into your mind, better you should avoid that news. Here’s the tip – don’t read any political news right after you get up in the morning and as you retire to bed at night.
Read in the afternoon. Buy a bunch of newspapers and read the news or you can also use apps to view the headlines and the important information that you need to know. Being informed about the points people discuss gives you an advantage to cite your opinion. If you can do that you will feel good about yourself and will feel a sense of belonging to the group of workers who discuss politics at office regularly.
#3. Start with “I”
Many people get defensive when you disagree with them. And that feeling of insecurity increases when you start your statement with ‘you.’ For example, if you say something like – “You believe this to be true, but actually this is not as true as you think.” If you pay heed you would see that the emphasis of this sentence is on ‘you’ and not on what you personally think. Instead of doing that, let’s paraphrase the sentence and put “I” as the main emphasis. How should you say it then? Here’s how – “I think that the truth is something different than what is believed.” If you don’t start with ‘you’ or don’t put people in a situation where they’re the centre of the whole sentence, then they tend to feel secure even if you disagree with them. Golden rules of discussing politics are not only to learn how to discuss politics; they are also about how to understand the psychology of people and apply them in places where you discuss something with different sorts of people having varied cultures and backgrounds.
#4. Ask meaningful questions of politics
This is an important step. Yes, we asked to get informed about the political affairs and that helps. But the thing is when you ask questions in a discussion, it serves two major purposes. One, it makes the speaker realize that you’re interested in the topic and want to know more. Two, the speaker feels appreciated for your attention and concentration. If these two things happen, the speaker subconsciously builds trust and likes to share more and more. So, how would you start asking questions even when you feel that you don’t know much about politics? The best way to do that is to pick something from what the speaker is saying and then you can ask – Why? What about that? Why do you think this way? And as you listen closely you will get hint about what to ask.
Don’t ask just because you want to ask. Ask because you want to know. If you’re not interested to know much about the topic of politics, it’s better to keep mum. Because the speaker can pick your non-verbal cues and understand that you’re just pretending to be curious and you’re actually not interested. Best yet, make notes of what the speaker is saying if you and your co-workers are part of a group in a form of debate or if it’s formal. Otherwise you can just ask question and get to know more about the topic.
#5. Listen with all your heart
Listening is a gift, not only a skill. Even when someone is talking about politics and you’re joining in, the best way to be interested is to show keenness on listening to what he has to say. Now, most of us gaze at the person who is speaking. But that’s not listening. Listening is not something that you do when you hear somebody. Listening is something you do when you put yourself in the shoes of the speaker and try to extract the best out of what he has to say. Listening to political discussion is no different.
When someone from your group knows a lot about politics and he is speaking to all of you, the first thing you should do is to be a good listener, better to say to be an emphatic listener. What you should avoid while listening is to interrupt the other person from speaking. Don’t jump in and interrupt; rather be calm and composed and let the other person finish things up. You will get an opportunity to speak up if you have other things to say. Thus, one of the most fundamental golden rules of discussing politics at work is practicing listening to understand, not only to respond.
#6. Choose people/ fight wisely
Your workplace is not your home. Remember that while you argue about politics. You need to choose people to whom you can be free and argue with your view point. You must ensure that when you choose people to discuss about politics, they shouldn’t have power to demean you. For example, if you speak about the government policy about the international project in front of the CEO of the company, he may not be very impressed with your opinion.
The idea is not get marked or get bad in front of the most important person in the company. We’re not asking you to get scared and not to share your opinion at all. But politics is a sensitive subject and you should understand in workplace not everyone loves to fight with you or appreciates your opinion. Your boss or CEO may get offended about your remarks and it can subconsciously affect him. So be careful about where you blurt out and speak something that you shouldn’t say. Think about the place, the situation, the people, the environment and the way you speak and specifically when you discuss about politics.
#7. Know when to step back
Stepping back is an important step while discussing politics. You may not notice what you’re doing in the heat of the moment. But maybe you’re saying something humiliating to the audience and in the audience there’s someone who is very near to the CEO. Thus while discussing politics, be careful about who is sitting where and how they’re responding to you. The worst mistake you would make while discussing politics is to think that your colleagues are all your friends. They’re not. While discussing politics there are many who play politics, yes office politics. Thus, while discussing politics at work, you need to master the art of stepping back. Once you’re able to do that, you would know that you won’t feel the temptation to scream because someone else didn’t agree with you. You would be able to keep your poise and make yourself calm in any or all situation. Whenever there is a situation where you know there could be conflict, excuse yourself from that place.
#8. Don’t make the discussion your life purpose
Why you and your colleagues discuss politics. The main reason is to take a break from work and relieve some pressure. Thus, while discussing politics don’t make it your life purpose. You’re not at your work place to scream, shout and try to prove your opinion. Rather you’re there to do the work. And in between you can discuss multiple things with your colleagues. But discussion is not serious business, work is. So, don’t do a thing while discussing politics that affect your persona, career and life at large. You know what we mean. Remain within the boundaries. Don’t go overboard and don’t discuss things that shouldn’t be discussed at office. Be smart and discuss politic; don’t be involved in it.
#9. Finish it with grace
Your workplace is not a place to discuss politics to be precise. But to make the work light and to spend a relieving afternoon on Friday, you may discuss politics. You may argue, share your opinion and disagree. But when you end the conversation, remember that it has to be with grace. You should not end the discussion on a note which will frustrate you, create enmity with your colleagues and leave you in bad phase. Thus, when the discussion gets ended, give a handshake and finish it. Keep a smile and say – “it was a nice discussion.” And then smile and go home.
Discussing politics is not a big deal at work. People do that, mostly during elections and before or after the elections. Whatever tips we offered above are the tips you should follow to keep things neat while discussing politics. If you’re interested in politics, you can use the above tips to get going.
Actually, the above tips are not only about politics, but also about discussing anything that is off-track; meaning when you and your co-workers are not discussing about any important projects at work.
In the final analysis what we want you to leave behind is always be aware about the weather of the office before you discuss office politics. Organizations hire you to work and to get results from you. You need to deliver ROI. So, if the organization you work in is sort of traditional, you should think before getting involved in political discussion. Even if your co-workers don’t understand this, it’s your responsibility to assess the situation and act accordingly. Even in a friendly situation, where your founder members, top managements and all the people in the organization gather to share their views on politics, be careful about what you say because it may affect your reputation and career. Understand the balance and then discuss politics at work.