A few weeks ago when the General Election was announced a reporter in Bristol spoke to a lady called Brenda and asked her for her opinion on the news there was going to be another General election. Her response was “You’re joking? Not another one!” an opinion I am sure shared by many especially in the water cooler moments in the office.
We often hear the saying…never discuss politics or religion…and no more so in the daily office life. Normally this is standard but we are now coming up to yet another General Election and of course everyone will have a view and want to express their opinion. Some people are so passionate about voting they cannot understand why someone would not vote. Others simply could not care less thinking no matter who governs the UK we will still have the same problem
Every person has different and conflicting opinions on life in general and in fact it would be a pretty drab world if we all agreed with everyone else.
Debate is good for the work place and helpful to embrace the different viewpoints of your colleagues but sadly some people have such extreme views that this can make someone feel they are being offended and thus you can start to create conflict in the work place. This must be avoided.
Below are a few tips to help you handle the water cooler moment with your colleagues over the next few weeks leading up to the General Election.
Firstly understand that everyone has a different opinion and try to agree to disagree if you can.
Not everyone will see the bigger picture and while colleagues may have opposing views on a political party it is important not to let this affect your daily working life.
Many organisations have a people policy in place – Do check your people policy – if you have one make sure it is circulated to all member of staff so they can be familiar with it in the run up to the General Election. In fact I think this is crucial with the General Election looming.
It is vital staff know that any politician discussion must be aware of the boundaries and to establish what is acceptable in the work place and what is not.
No matter which party a member of staff supports – and despite how much they try to convince you they are right – you must respect their views. Of course your opinion maybe different from theirs and this can be for many reasons. Perhaps their family have always supported a certain party and that is what they have been brought up to believe all their life. Maybe where they live has benefited from a politician party and so their allegiance will be that with that party.
If you feel a member of staff is over stepping the boundaries with their views do not be afraid to have a quiet word with them. If that fails then ask your Manager or Supervisor to speak to them.
Likewise if there is an individual who is a keen party member and actively campaigns for them do also speak to them and make sure they do not campaign during working hours and this can include wearing badges or slogans in the office. Likewise make sure they are not using the company stationary, internet etc for their political party.
Staff using social media even outside work need to be extra careful. This is essential if they are retweeting or commenting on certain political parties and must make sure they do not cause offence. Remember that all the political news is not ‘true news’ as there is a lot of fake news out there.
One of the best ways to avoid conflict is to not try to get into a heated debate with your co-workers. After all you are going to be seeing them nearly every day. So try to avoid any sensitive issues. If in doubt just walk away. Remember not everyone will agree with your point of view.
Taking about politics can be a minefield and tricky to handle. The general election is something we cannot avoid hearing about (unless you stop watching tv, going on social media, reading the papers etc). But there is light at the end of the tunnel. This election will be over on 8 June and everyone will then be back to moaning about office life in general!