Posted by Brian McCullough
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.