Sunday, July 10, 2016

Keeping Social and Political Views Out of the Workplace

With the political and social turmoil raging throughout the U.S., Europe and many other regions, it can be difficult to abstain from discussing your personal views with those at work. I advise not interacting in political and social discussions at work for three main reasons, which I have outlined below. 

1. Relationships in the Office

Think about your supervisor, colleagues and direct reports. Each of these groups of people will have differing opinions than you on at least one issue. There will also be certain issues that people are very passionate about, which can lead to some very heated debates. Your work relationships can suffer as a result of these debates. You don't want the people you work with to have a reason to suddenly look at you in a negative light or constantly debate you on various issues. It is also well known that all people have (conscious and unconscious) bias to those that look, act or think differently than them. When people know your views oppose or support their own, it can lead to favoritism or inequity. For example, let’s say that your manager knows you oppose his views on immigration reform due to a conversation you both had some weeks ago. An opportunity arises to promote you or your colleague and he chooses to promote your colleague. How would you know in certainty that knowledge of your personal views did not influence the decision in some way?  This is an example of how these discussions can potentially cause tension and negative actions. Please discuss personal views outside of the workplace to ensure you do not hinder your work relationships or career development. 

2. Avoiding Emotional Statements

You may not realize just how strongly you feel about a certain issue, until you are faced with someone that has an opposing view. Keeping your emotions outside of the workplace is very important, and even more important if you work a blue collar (manual labor) job. If you have a job that involves working with potentially dangerous machinery or tools, obviously emotion being involved is a huge no-no. Becoming emotional at work gives off a negative vibe to those you work with and can also hinder your ability to do your job effectively. Specifically it leads to a higher chance of human error. Think about a time you had a bad break up or were dealing with family issues. How did you feel at work? Where you able to focus on your tasks just as normal? My guess is that you had at least some difficulties. Because of this, I strongly encourage you to refrain from social and political discussions. They can really open up the door to emotional arguments, which could lead to mishaps at work. 

3. Lack of Effectiveness

Talking about social and political issues at work does not really change anything. It is very unlikely that you will change the viewpoint of someone else. Even if you are able to, it is simply not worth the risk of creating an uncomfortable work environment. The time spent discussing these issues can be used a lot more effectively. The time can be used to proactively take action to promote a cause you are interested in. You should focus your energy into being more efficient while at work by skipping these discussions.  

Peace and best wishes to all of you reading this. We are all going through some difficult times wherever you are, but as a people, standing together we can make the world better. 


Jess

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