To say that the national political discussion is fraught, is an understatement of sorts. Politics is such a divisive conversation topic that many of us go out of our way to avoid discussing politics in our personal and professional life.
For a long time I have not shied away from discussing politics in the office, I feel that everyone benefits when we have open, civilized discussions with co-workers.
Ha. I was so naive.
Discussing politics at work has always been fraught but as our politicians become more divisive, discussing politics at work has become even higher risk.
What if you are a Republican in a workplace surrounded by Democrats? How exactly do you say anything without hearing the “But Trump…”automatic response?
What if you are a Democrat in a workplace full of Republicans? How many Fox News talking points can you tolerate before you want to scream with rage?
And then there are people, like me, in the middle. I’m wary of any political party promising to solve all my problems and as a Libertarian I get hate from both sides- I’m too liberal for my Republican friends and too conservative for my Democrat friends.
I’ve started avoiding political discussions at work and instead I’m focusing on my values and how I can live my values at work.
I work in HR and I need to partner with people, not alienate them. Politics has become so divisive that I fear speaking out openly can alienate someone before they’ve had a chance to work with me.
The last couple of years I’ve been struggling with how I can show up to work and live my values when some consider speaking up about “equality” and “transparency” to be a “political” act.
What’s Worked for Me
First, I know my values, I’ve worked with a professional coach to clarify my values, how they fit into my life and how I can live those values.
Second, I strive to not compromise my values. Even if it means I’m the unpopular person that day. If you go down the slippery slope of compromising your values to “fit in” you will never be happy with yourself or your decisions.
Knowing and following my core values (equality, transparency, compassion, creativity and authenticity) helps me get beyond politics and make better decisions. I’m not suggesting we can remove politics from work but I think we make better decisions when we minimize alienating others and we focus on the right thing for the organization and its people.
I believe you can disagree with your co-workers about politics but still make values based decisions. But if you are working at a place where your values are in conflict with the organization, its time to move on. You will never be happy if your values are in conflict with your work.