Rachel, I don’t want to hear about Chick-fil-A
The writer has a beef with people discussing politics in the office
August 3, 2012
From the presidential election to the Chick-fil-A debate, I am so sick of people talking politics in the office! I have my own viewpoints on these matters, but I prefer to keep them to myself rather than airing them in the office, where people are easily offended and often carry their personal differences of opinion into work matters. Is there a polite way that I can avoid getting sucked into these discussions? Or even an impolite way that I can make my point when people keep trying to engage me?– Sign me Waiting for Late November in Ohio
There was a time, long ago, when society enjoyed some sense about what were appropriate topics of conversation in public spaces, be it an office or a factory, a saloon or a cocktail party. The idea was to stick to topics that made people feel good about where they were and to avoid topics that set people off and made them wish they were someplace else.
That's no longer the case, as we are all too well aware.
It's now the fashion to take an extreme position on all matter of issues—politics, the death penalty, gay rights, the best brand of cat litter—and shout it to the rooftops. The more offense created, the better.
Compromise, reason and a concern for the feelings of others are most certainly out of fashion, as we can see all across the public stage, beginning with the U.S. Congress.
No place is now considered off limits for rancorous debate, including the office.
I agree it has no place there. Offices are contentious enough from all the stress related to just getting the work done. There's no sense adding to the tension by introducing discussions that are sure to increase stress levels.
The challenge is what to do about it.
You could go to management but I wouldn't get your hopes up. Managers typically avoid intervening in non-work-related issues unless they have no other choice.
The last thing a manager wants to do is tell workers what they can and can't talk about.
I think it's up to you to handle this on your own, and I think you should be as blunt as you need to be to get your point across.
As soon as someone starts talking about a topic that you consider inappropriate for the workplace, interrupt and explain exactly how you feel. Say, abruptly as needed, I don't want to hear about it.
If the person persists, simply walk away.
Trust me, if you do that often enough, people will get the message and avoid attempting to bring you into their discussions.
By all means, stand your ground. You won't have to wait until November for relief.
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