Fall is here, and the Christmas season is right around the corner.
Festivities! Gifts! Peace to all, and to all a goodnight (or something to that effect)!
I hope your ready to be even more uncomfortable around your loved ones than you usually would.
- You need to talk about President Trump and the Republican administration, and what they represents.
- You need to talk about Colin Kaepernick, and what he represents.
- You need to talk about the earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, wildfires and other natural disasters, and what they represent.
I say that regardless of what sociopolitical leaning you may have. If we don’t talk, we have no possibility to understand, to clarify, and most importantly in my opinion, to work toward solutions to the issues we’re facing.
These conversations also need to happen in the workplace. Leaders can’t continue to pretend that what happens outside a company’s four walls will remain there. If an employee is suddenly faced with a personal emergency (e.g., medical issue, divorce, death in the family), doesn’t that potentially impact their performance? And organizations usually understand the importance of intervening when this occurs, for a number of reasons. First, it’s the right thing to do. The second reason is selfish–the sooner the employee can address their personal issue , the sooner they can be fully productive members of the organization again. Organizations should have mechanisms in place to help people with issues that can potentially disrupt the workplace.
Now let’s be real–many of the subjects I described earlier are what people are talking and/or concerned about. So this mechanism needs to be extended to the social and political arenas as well. Otherwise, you may have a potential employee relations, PR, or legal mess waiting to happen. Think about how many public and private employees are being fired or disciplined in the wake of social media posts expressing views that are perceived as racist, sexist, vulgar, etc. This not only impacts the individual, but the organization they’re a part of. Why risk it?
You may want to get ahead of this.
In an organizational setting, leaders and HR should work together to provide a framework and resources which allow for dialogue and disagreement, while keeping things professional.
I will be clear though–having uncomfortable conversations (in a family or workplace setting) is not the same as putting up with abuse. Just like it’s ridiculous to ask someone in an abusive relationship to give their abuser a chance, I would not encourage dialogue with those that are attempting to do harm. If what you’re worried about is making someone uncomfortable (or vice-versa), then I would ask you to reflect on why that is, and figure out strategies on how to push through those feelings.
One last thing–take what I just described in the previous paragraph, and add the heightened (and often awkward) emotional state that is the company holiday party. Add alcohol, then shake and pour. Fun times!
As I said, you may want to get ahead of this. Happy holidays!