It's not easy to keep your lips sealed the morning after the latest politcal debate. No matter which side of the political fence you're on, it can be tough to not offer your two cents on the issues. However, don't lose sight of the fact that you're still in a professional environment among co-workers, not friends. Here are some tips from etiquette expert, Diane Gottsman, to keep the harmony inside the office if a political conversation comes up.
1. Keep your environment "work friendly" - Allow other's to talk about their views, but when the conversation gets heated, you can excuse yourself to your office or cubicle. Say, "I'm going to uses this energy on my project that is due at the end of the day".
2. Look around - Ask yourself, "How are people responding to me?" If you notice that people are consistently responding negatively when you are involved in the conversation, it's time to check your tone of voice, facial expressions and nonverbal body language. People easily pick up on your emotions, even when your words are attempting to stay calm and neutral.
3. Stay away from the topic of religion - Money, sex, divorce, politics and religion are private matters and any one of these, separately, or in combination is unprofessional and inappropriate to discuss at the office without discretion and decorum.
4. Even if you can keep it together, others can’t - You may be able to keep your cool during a political discussion but other colleagues may not be able to hold themselves to your standards. Be aware of the group mentality and the direction of the conversation. If you see others feeling uncomfortable, take the high road and change the subject, saying "Out of respect for each other and the sake of office harmony, let's change the subject".
5. Put your framed and autographed picture of the candidate in your desk - A not so subtle way to irritate a coworker is by bumper stickers, buttons and political paraphernalia. Unless you are at a political rally, keep your signs, posters and t-shirts at home. Don’t treat your office like your living room.
Your opinion matters but holds more weight when you are taking other people’s feeling into consideration. Sensitive subjects are treaded upon lightly for a reason. Use good judgment when bringing up the topic of politics and engaging in a conversation that could potentially get heated or out of control.