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How to Avoid Political Debates In The Workplace

By December 12, 2023No Comments
avoiding political debates in the workplace

It’s best to avoid political debates in the workplace

As any good dinner guest knows, the two topics to typically avoid are politics and religion. Yet with everything going on in politics right now, avoiding political debates within your workplace may be difficult. Everyone has opinions and are entitled to share them, but the workplace is not always the best place to do this.

It’s worth noting that however friendly the political debates start within the workplace, they can quickly escalate unintentionally, becoming highly fueled, passionate, and at times, offensive. Whilst you or a colleague may feel strongly about a political issue, there are always going to be people who for a multitude of reasons feel differently.

What can happen when a political debate becomes heated?

When a political debate becomes heated, the same as any other difference of opinion, you risk isolating individuals with differing viewpoints and causing stress and tension in the workplace. It may cause unnecessary distraction from the work at hand and may divide a once harmonious working environment. 

What’s the best way to avoid a political debate?

The most effective way in avoiding political debates in your workplace is to ensure every individual is aware of the expectations.

For this to happen, each person needs to understand the businesses stance on topics like politics and why. 

Ensure that all employees know they are not allowed to decorate their desks or work areas with signs or symbols of political parties, as this may encourage unnecessary debates within the team. 

With individuals requiring various forms of communication, which should include written, visual, and verbal, it is a good idea to review the following communication points to start with:

  • Review internal policies, making them available to individuals
  • Create a memo or briefing to all employees that is to be read and acknowledged by all
  • Verbally communicate expectations during a team meeting/brief
  • Provide regular training to individuals and line managers to help them deal with these situations

Is this enough to avoid political debates?

Just because you may have covered these points it means you’re completely safe and sound. Topical discussions like politics may still arise, but they are natural conversations. Although the above points will help curb these discussions, the real area of focus is to create an environment and culture which includes and accepts people’s views. Just because we need to try and avoid debates like this, we shouldn’t put people down for their views.

Effective leadership and open communication are key to making this happen. It’s a good idea to encourage individuals to avoid political discussions and debates wherever possible. However, if faced with a conversation it’s important that individuals understand the need to keep an open mind and avoid confrontational statements and opinions being forced upon others.

Line managers and senior members need to be developed and be confident on how to encourage conversations along safer topics and how to provide specific feedback to individuals about avoiding political or topical debates, stressing how these conversations have the potential to cause hurt or upset someone. 

Do you need support with situations like this?

Managing difficult conversations can be tough at the best of times and from experience we know that the biggest driver of grievances and conflict is miscommunication. Miscommunication left unresolved can cause demotivation, a negative culture, lower performance and an increase in staff turnover.

Do you need some hints and tips to support further? Or you may want to consider looking at your policies, and processes and creating rules against political views in the workplace. If you’re not sure on how to approach this then call us for assistance on  01733 739660 to discuss in confidence.