Is Election Talk A Minefield For You At Work?

The Political Divide Can Aggravate Office Politics

This issue keeps raising its head every time an election comes around – political polarization seeping into everyday workplace affairs. I tackled it recently in my Psychology Today column. Until the country makes the decision in November, politics will continue to dominate our collective consciousness, and we’ll keep talking about it, sometimes passionately, with emotions easily taking over. But should this be happening in the workplace?

Otherwise mild mannered co-workers can quickly morph into what I call “Terrible Office Tyrants” or TOTs” – throwing a tantrum because you don’t agree with what they believe is “obvious.” It’s as if the world will implode if their candidate isn’t elected.

Although some in the office like to make it clear whether they’re a Democrat or a Republican, it’s best to not flaunt your political beliefs. Chances are someone along the way will feel some form of alienation. If it adds nothing to productivity, then drop it – and that’s a good litmus test for anything you’re unsure about in the workplace.

And the issue can be more serious for your career. Employees have even been fired for causing conflict in the office; inflammatory topics such as abortion can ultimately lead to claims of sexual harassment; and one industry study shows that 25% of employers have policies that address restrictions on political discussions in the workplace.

Read the complete article for my suggestions on how to navigate the tricky waters of the Romney v. Obama debate at work, especially if your boss wears his party’s pin on his lapel – or a presumptuous co-worker sends you an endless feed of political Internet jokes.