This column will be too late for some of you — who have already violated every suggestion I’m offering. But there’s always hope, at least for many of you! So here goes.
It’s Election Day and all across American workplaces people blatantly or with subtlety are telling you how to vote.
Political affiliation can be one of quickest ways to either change peace to passion or quiet a righteous good time to a whisper.
I’m sure that many are thinking that the workplace is no place for political discussion anyway. Well, of course it isn’t, unless you work in a political campaign office or for a politician.
But when has that ever stopped an improper or ill-advised discussion? Discrimination and harassment lawsuits based on illegal activity — as opposed to inadvisable behavior — are almost always based partly on conversations people were having in the workplace. People do a lot of talking at work.
Here are a few tips to keep Election Day in the workplace from sounding like an annoying political commercial:
1) Just stick to wearing the “I Voted” sticker that your polling place gives you. Skip wearing your candidate’s campaign button. Please don’t hand out campaign material.
2) Don’t be the person who starts talking about whom you voted for and why you voted for them when everyone else is talking about kale chips or the football game. Political races are a topic with absolutely no payoff at your job.
3) Have your antenna up to extricate yourself from the political conversation someone is determined to have. If you are a direct person, just directly tell the person you aren’t having that conversation. If you aren’t so direct, bathroom breaks were invented for more than actually using the bathroom.
4) Remember, all this still applies to the day — and weeks — after. If you are passionate about politics generally or a particular issue, it’s natural to want to gloat or commiserate after the votes have been counted. Don’t do it. At least not to more than one or two co-workers who drive to work with the same bumper sticker that you have.
Even people who would never have a discriminatory or bigoted word come out of their mouth can become a fire-breathing dragon over politics. Just save yourself the trouble at work. Discuss food and sports.