Q: It is the season again. Every four years. We are subjected to our CEO’s political opinions. He talks about issues related to politics and then slowly begins to make voting recommendations. He calls many of the candidates idiots, fools or worse. We are all tired of it, even if we agree with him! He is not changing anyone’s mind either. How do we handle this? It is annoying and bordering unprofessional.
A: Your concern may not be as rare as you might think. We hear this complaint every few years in this column!
There are some guidelines for what should not be discussed within the workplace. The following areas are typically discouraged: sex, religion and politics. Most people know that their private life should not be discussed so few are so bold as to discuss sex in the workplace. Religion can also create controversy and offend others. A discussion about politics can be divisive and uncomfortable too.
However, your CEO should be modeling appropriate behavior, not behaving in a way which makes others feel uncomfortable. Once in the past we had someone print this column and leave it on the offender’s desk with certain areas highlighted. Perhaps that would work. Or you could also get the conversation back on track by adding a comment like: “Hey Tom, are we talking politics or sales results today?” Some also may feel comfortable by infusing humor into the situation, but that can be a risk too because some people can be offended by humor. Depending upon your relationship with your CEO, you could also talk to him privately and explain that, although some of his points may be valid, it is awkward to discuss his political beliefs in the workplace.
I am sure you are looking forward to the election, when hopefully this topic will die down. However, it sounds like they may crop up again during the next election cycle.
Good luck in addressing it. My hope is that a combination of these tactics may reduce the level of political discussion.
by Pattie Hunt Sinacole, First Beacon Group LLC
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