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Don’t Bring Your Politics Into The Workplace

September 29th, 2008 · 6 Comments

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Maybe I’m old fashioned.

(The further into my 30s I go, the more old fashioned I feel.)

But I really don’t feel there is a place in the workplace for three things: your religion, your sex life and your politics. I don’t want to hear about any of them. Keep it to yourself.

So, given the fact that the election is only a month away, it might be worth exploring this again.

Simply put: your reputation means a lot to your career. You want people to trust you, depend on you, and, just as importantly, you want them to like you. Bringing your politics out in the open in the workplace can only hurt you.

How? Well, will you concede a point? I think we live in a very, very divided and partisan country. I can’t remember an election in my lifetime where people cared so much and argued so passionately. People didn’t really pay as much attention to, say, Reagan vs. Mondale. And if you told someone you were voting for Bush (the first) or Clinton, people might have their viewpoints… but those viewpoints didn’t exactly lend themselves to vituperation and downright hatred.

Simply put, they didn’t care as much. You could have an opposing political point of view and people didn’t hold it against you.

Nowadays, it is completely different…

Let’s say I am of a certain political persuasion. And I like you. You seem like a decent, hard-working, reasonably intelligent co-worker.

Then, one day, I find out that you support THAT OTHER GUY!

And suddenly, I can’t think of you the same way I did. I mean, no one in their right mind would ever support THAT GUY! Are you crazy? You must be. I’ve come to the conclusion over the last few years that anyone who supports THAT PARTY has a few screws loose at best, and is downright un-American at worst.


Now think of it in reverse. What about those political feelings you hold so dear? What if one day you found out that I like THE GUY YOU CAN’T STAND and that I’m a lifelong member of THE PARTY YOU DESPISE? How will you think of me?

Do you see how this can complicate things unnecessarily? If we didn’t know these superfluous things about each other, we could go on working just fine, still blithely thinking well of one another. We wouldn’t have to suddenly re-evaluate each-other’s reason, patriotism and general intelligence.

Politics is not necessary in the workplace. It’s a completely counterproductive and incendiary thing to introduce.

Stop forwarding me the conspiracy theory emails, take the bumper sticker down from your cubicle and quit it with the jokes.

The jokes can be especially insulting. This is doubly true if you just assume I share your political beliefs and insist on foisting a joke upon me that I have no intention in laughing at. How could you think I would agree with that opinion? You think so little of me that you assume I think the same way that dumb people like you do?

I’m trying to be a bit funny here, but the point is serious. Being too free with your political views can be detrimental to your career. And to go back to my old-fashioned point, it’s just bad manners.

And we haven’t even talked about independents, or people who don’t care about politics yet! To these people, we both – Liberals and Conservatives, Republicans and Democrats alike – come off as bores… annoying, loud-mouthed, opinionated bores. There they go again, arguing the same stupid political points over and over…

If nothing else, do it for the people who just don’t care as much as you do. Talk about sports, or what you thought of last night’s Desperate Housewives. And spare the rest of use your tirade.

Related posts:

  1. Ask Brian- Politics on My Resume
  2. Avoiding Office Politics
  3. 7 Embarrassing Breaches of Workplace Etiquette
  4. Obama And Today’s Workplace
  5. How $200-A-Barrel Oil Might Affect The Workplace
  6. Ask Brian – How to Go Public With Workplace Romance?

Tags: ... Or Hardly Working? · Getting Ahead · Office Politcs

  • Barbie

    I couldn’t agree more …
    I used to work in a pretty small office where religion and politics were frequently talked about. We would start off having “healthy” conversations and agreed to disagree on many topics, yet still respected each other and our differences. Until it was election time. Then all I heard was “You better vote for “X”. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for my son.” WHAT!?!? I will vote for myself thank you very much. I felt insulted and each passing day made me angrier as I kept getting these types of comments over who I SHOULD be voting for. – Their candidate.
    NEVER NEVER talk politics in the office.

  • Chris Hamilton

    Hi there,

    I tried contacting you a while but never received a response, can you please email me so we can discuss my proposal?


  • Mark

    Good advice for myself as an individual. But, of little use to anyone in an office where the discussion of politics has already started and is integrated into the daily routine. I am in an office where you either debate the issues or it is assumed that you agree with what is being said. Certainly, the discussions are little more than time wasters but they occur nevertheless. Monday’s ongoing discussion was about the falling stock market and the situation was reported breathlessly every 15 minutes by employees who had the CNN webpage constantly refreshing on their monitors. Years ago, I worked at an office where the boss declared, in a company-wide meeting, that the future success of the business hinged on the election of a certain candidate and everyone was expected to vote accordingly. Good luck out there.

  • Richard Rinyai

    Hi Brian,

    I completely agree. It’s amazing of how political leaders nowadays just blame the other for what they’ve done, instead of focusing on the issues that the country is facing.

    People have their own views and should keep it to themselves, as things can get out of hand at the office. That’s why we vote in confidence!


    Richard Rinyai

  • Hisoka

    Heh, sure.. I can’t agree with this advice, man. Politics is what makes life interesting, you want to work in a boring office with unstimulating conversations about work? Please, you spend the bulk of your life at work, at least make it interesting in some aspect. Have intelligent conversations.. I’m not talking about cursing or flaming. respect others, and teach others – learn something.

    Now if it gets out of hand, I agree it’s unhealthy, but in my opinion, my co-workers are relatively respectful, we will argue and debate, but we will launch any personal attacks on each other. We’re just having a conversation like respectful human beings. What’s wrong with that?

  • Tired of 24hr News

    I dont want to know who you voted for or who’s a complete idiot in congress. Just give me your “TPS” report so I can give this briefing!