In modern workplaces, employees are encouraged to bring their whole selves to work. If your company has happy hours, pinball machines or on-site doctors, your company is encouraging you to bring your personal values and experiences into the office. But there remains one part of our personal values that we are keeping mum about: Politics.
In a new Zety survey of more than 1,000 people, 83% of people admitted to having political conversations at work, but one in three people said they were uncomfortable at work over the discussions being had.
Republicans report feeling bullied and disrespected due to political beliefs
Talking about the current presidential administration can be a polarizing topic. The majority of people who talked about politics said that President Donald Trump was the topic causing the most workplace tension.
The majority of workers surveyed said that politics did not impact their relationships with coworkers, but the group that did feel slighted by their coworkers’ politics was most likely to be Republican. Self-reported Republicans were more likely to feel bullied and disrespected by their coworkers’ politics than Democrats and Independents in the survey. They were the group most likely to say they had difficulty working with coworkers due to their political beliefs.
Employees may feel so uncomfortable about sharing that they even lie. Sixty-one percent of Republicans said they lied about their political party support, compared to 19% of Independents and Democrats who said the same.
Just because your coworker may be nodding in the right places, in other words, does not mean they agree with you. At work, productivity depends on maintaining solid relationships with your coworkers. That can get compromised when the topic of “Who did you vote for?” gets broached. More than a quarter of workers said they felt stressed out by political chatter at work, according to the American Psychological Association.
“Employers and employees have a shared responsibility to resist the trap of vilifying those with different opinions and actively encourage civility, respect, collaboration, and trust,” David Ballard, assistant executive director for organizational excellence at the APA said. “A psychologically healthy work environment can help diminish the negative consequences of unavoidable political discussions
You can maintain a positive working relationship with people who are wildly different from you if you recognize the risks. Look up your company policy on bringing your campaign to work. About a quarter of organizations have a formal written policy on political activities.
But you do not always need a handbook to know when an argument is going to backfire on you. Before you speak your mind about climate change and gun control, use your common sense and weigh the consequences of what could happen.
It is helpful to recognize that you are unlikely to convert your opposing colleagues to your side in a watercooler discussion. It is normal to process your thoughts and feelings about politics at work, but you will want to be diplomatic about the time and place of sharing these opinions out loud. Know when you can engage in a respectful dialogue and when you need to ask to change the subject or walk away.