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Managing Post-Election Political Discourse in the Workplace: What You Need to Know


Managing Post-Election Political Discourse in the Workplace: What You Need to Know

It’s hard to avoid social media, even if you decided to take a break before, or in the aftermath of, the most divisive presidential election in recent history.

Tweets and Facebook posts range from “don’t be cry-babies” about former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid loss to people of color recounting stories of how strangers on the streets are yelling at them to “go home,” supposedly emboldened by Republican candidate Donald Trump’s win.

It’s hard to judge people because we don’t know their experiences. But, it’s easy to crave civility and healing when the political parties have seemed so divided.

Along with the tweets and postings, social media and media outlets have offered some advice on dealing with politics in the workplace and at home.

Here are some highlights:

According to a Nov. 1 post on Marketplace Today, creating policies to handle politically charged conversations in the workplace is essential. The policy, the post says, should focus on professionalism and respect for each other.  

In an election year like 2016, the tension may be prolonged, and supervisors and executives should be on guard for extended election discussions. In addition to following whatever policies that may be in place or creating new policies, supervisors should keep the faith that employees will eventually reset, says Marketplace Today. Have a plan to deescalate tense conversations and hold people accountable for getting their work done.

The Charlotte Observer on Nov. 7 printed a list of tips on keeping the peace in light of political or other difficult discussions:

  • Avoid the conversation. Keep it light. Focus on your job.
  • Even if the conversation is unavoidable, make it a point to say something such as: “I hope this doesn’t interfere with our ability to work together.”
  • If you’re on the winning side, extend an olive branch with no gloating.
  • Maintain quiet zones for employees to recharge and remove themselves from the hot-button issue of the day. Just because the election is over doesn’t mean that politically charged conversations will stop. Twenty-four hour news cycles ensure it.
  • Help employees turn their attention to Thanksgiving and volunteer activities. Helping others can dilute personal angst.
  • Use political activities and legislation proposals to involve employees in conversations about leadership and how companies thrive when leadership skills are on display.
  • Social media can blur the lines between work-related and personal posts. Ensure that employees understand your organization’s social media and electronic policies.

Even though general political discussions may take place occasionally in the workplace, be joyful that the next presidential election process won’t hit in earnest for about 2 ½ years.

Finally, regardless of the political environment, know that you can—and should—make a personal commitment to be inclusive! We hope you will. That’s what we’re all about. 

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