SURVEY SAYS: Do You Discuss Politics at Work?

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, do you discuss politics at work, and if so, how does that affect working relationships?
By PS

While one-third of respondents said no, 41% indicated they do, but only to the colleagues they are closest to.  Fifteen percent do so only about big events, such as a presidential election, and 12% said they discuss politics openly at work.  

The majority of those who have had workplace discussions about politics (84%) said it has not resulted in a heated discussion or fight with a co-worker or management, but 12% indicated they had resulted in a heated retirement or fight with a peer co-worker. Five percent reported it had resulted in such a conflict with their bosses, 3% said they had a heated discussion or fight with someone higher up than their bosses, and 1% with a co-worker who reports to them.  

Half of responding NewsDash readers reported that a political discussion at work gave them a more negative opinion about someone at the workplace, but nearly as many (47.3%) said a political discussion had not changed their opinion about someone at work. Eight percent indicated their opinion for someone at work had changed for the positive.  

The verbatim comments mostly warned against discussing politics at work.  My favorite comment was, “The last question is perhaps the most illuminating in this week’s survey. You not only learn something about how people think, you learn how open they are to different points of view. Or aren’t, as the case may be.”

Verbatim  

I never initiate the conversation, and rarely comment on anything to someone from the "other" party. Only when I know we're on the same side of the discussion do I participate, and even that is dangerous! 

 

If I find out that someone truly believes ANY of the puppets they trot out in front of us can "change", that makes me wonder if they live in reality. Until the 2-party system is blown up, we'll get the same old retreads each time around in a different suit. 

 

I never cease to be amazed at how ignorant people are about current events, and how willing they are to accept at face value whatever media outlets are willing to put forth as fact. Honestly, there should be an intelligence test before people are allowed to vote! 

 

I enjoy political discussions with my colleagues, and I have several who are from "the other side," but we all do manage to get along. I have had heated discussions where I said things I later apologized for. Ironically, the opposing party also apologized, but we became better friends because of the disagreement. 

 

The saying on discussing politics and religion is true. Some people are very passionate about their political choices. I find it better to keep my choices between me and the voting booth. 

 

should not discuss politics at work if you are interested in maintaining/growing your career. don't assume your colleagues or bosses share your passion or can be converted to your beliefs. Stick to sports, weather and celebrity gossip - 

 

I'm conservative and I live in a very blue state. So I was delighted to discover that the CEO of my company is also conservative! I walked into his office one day just as he was minimizing the screen to the Drudge Report or some similar online conservative news source. I was so surprised that I just had to say something. 

 

I only discuss with one close coworker the fact that occasionally our CEO will insert his political opinions in his "All company calls" and we'd rather that he check his political comments at the door. Most recently, he's scheduled a congressman to come to the office to "answer" questions. This congressman happens to belong to same party the CEO endorses. He's taking liberties he shouldn't. 

 

I prefer to stay out of the gutter. Then again, I've also learned the truth of "...than to open my mouth and prove it". 

 

DON'T 

 

Verbatim (cont.)  

I think discussing politics at work can interfere with getting the work done. It takes time away from what I'm getting paid to do and often ends in conflict. 

 

You're a fool to discuss politics or religion at work. So, I'm a fool. 

 

Discussions on politics and religion are a lose-lose situation and no good ever became of it. 

 

It's usually impossible to convince someone that you believe their position(s) to be completely wrong. 

 

There are 3 subjects that I generally steer clear of: 1) politics 2) religion 3) asking a woman if she is pregnant. 

 

Yes. it is hard not to have an opinion of someone based on their party affiliation. 

 

Since one of our performance functions is political action this is a natural topic of conversation. 

 

I only discuss politics with those who I am sure have the same viewpoint that I do. If I pick up on the slightest hint that there is a differing opinion, I immediately change the subject. It's just not worth it to damage co-worker relationships with something that's so personal. 

 

This is touchy. When one's boss has strong political leanings and is very open and vocal about them, one must tread lightly. 

 

One has to be prudent in deciding with whom or whether to engage in political discussions, but I find it can be quite interesting to get viewpoints other than my own and to see how the other side thinks rather than just getting bumper sticker quotes. 

 

Politics and religion...can you ever "discuss" it without a good deal of heated banter? 

 

I try to refrain from discuss politics with colleagues/management because I don't want any backlash for having differing views on political/controversial issues. 

 

I don't discuss politics or religion, but other people do. They assume that everyone agrees with them. (I don't.) It is not worth speaking out about. I just keep my mouth shut. (I'm certainly not going to be able to change their minds.) 

 

With certain things, like politics and religion, you have to know what you're talking about and who you're talking to. Personally, I know I am in the political minority at my firm, so it doesn't make sense to be a jerk about it. 

 

Politics is a taboo subject at work. We have a work policy that does not allow the promotion or advocacy of one's political views. That includes no campaign buttons or political banners, etc. That way, no one gets sidetracked and work continues. 

 

My "politics discussions" are only with my closest colleague (of 12 years), and our comments are very short and very indirect. 

 

I think you have to know those within the group who's discussing politics. 

 

Despite treading with caution and keeping any comment to a general, high level sound bite about a big political story that might impact benefit plans, political discussion is a mine field in the office. It is hard to avoid any comment or discussion because of the impact that government has had on the benefit arena. Our employee's perception of political candidates, their perceived or real power to change things and political speculation just add another element to an already daunting communication task. In a presidential election year, HR just has to strap itself in and try to enjoy the wild ride. 

 

Having worked most of my life for people who have different political views than I do, I've learned to be selective in what I say.

Verbatim (cont.)  

I don't get into politics heavily with anyone because I despise the fact there are no right answers and it is considered "acceptable" to choose between the lesser of two evils. There is something inherently wrong with our system. 

 

I respect those who understand the issues even if we disagree. I do not respect those that blindly follow the spin spewed by political parties and pacs. 

 

My boss and I differ greatly on our political views but it is not negative. We mostly joke about it but there have been a few heated discussions. They end however with us agreeing to disagree. 

 

Discussions are more of a ribbing between people who hold different views on politicians or their proposals. Most of us realize how little of value is accomplished by governments no matter who's in power. 

 

People have different point of view and it is important to air them for a good working relationship. In real life politics isn't as polarizing as the media makes it out to be. The political system is fine, the media reporting on it is actually creating the news, and that's the part that's broken. 

 

Everyone has the right to his or her own opinion. However, some prefer to argue why their opinion is the "right" opinion, yet they don't care to discuss their differences. This leads to arguments, anger and sometimes a more negative opinion of one another. Personally, I don't care to open that door. I prefer to observe and try to learn from others. What's the old saying... better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt. 

 

Just walk away - risks are too great unless you know you are of "like attitude" with the other person. 

 

I rarely discuss politics at work as I find most people are ill-informed about many topics. I could give myself a concussion from all of the face-palming that would occur. 

 

I lean Democrat and our owner leans Libertarian. Not a good mix. I listen politely all the while we both know that I don't agree with anything being said. Makes for a very uncomfortable day sometimes, but never anything heated. I do NOT like the times when he very loudly discusses his opinions with others knowing that it makes several of us very uneasy. 

 

I only discuss political issues with colleagues that I trust and know that I can have those conversations without anyone having a goal of changing someone’s personal viewpoint. 

 

It's just NOT a good idea. Politics are just too polarizing for the workplace. You have to work too close to someone that doesn't share your beliefs for too many hours during the day. 

 

I pretty much keep my head down when politics are being discussed. I know my opinions are quite different from the strongly held beliefs of some of my coworkers and bosses. 

 

So long as everyone agrees with my hard-line Republican philosophies, everything is GREAT! 

 

My mother said to never discuss politics or religion, and I always try to heed her advise unless I am pulled into a discussion, then I try to stay on the fence. It keeps things from getting out of hand.

Verbatim (cont.)  

Two things I never discuss in the workplace--religion and politics! Nothing good can ever come of that. 

 

I feel free to discuss my views with those colleagues I am close to and I know share my values. Otherwise I stay away from discussing this subject as it could come back to haunt me if I say the wrong thing to someone with opposing views."Anything you say can and will be held against you." 

 

It's more about getting the younger employees to vote. They don't understand how important it is. 

 

Obviously discussing politics at work is touchy to begin with. What makes it even worse is when it is done in the cafeteria or somewhere else where more people can jump in and escalate the situation. A calm one on one discussion and a difference of opinion can be enlightening. 

 

My opinion of someone consists of more than their political view. I may disagree with them politically but hold other views that are the same or nearly the same. 

 

I am a pretty liberal democrat (I know, what am I doing in this business?), most co workers are independent or republican, most of the discussions are in more of good natured teasing where we call each other heartless or brainless... 

 

The last question is perhaps the most illuminating in this week's survey. You not only learn something about how people think, you learn how open they are to different points of view. Or aren't, as the case may be. 

 

Bad idea. 

 

Unless you're extremely liberal, in my office you keep your politics to yourself. Unfortunately, it's just not worth it to try to put forth an opinion when you're in the minority. 

 

I believe it's smart practice to find out your bosses political views. And if you agree, agree. If you disagree, keep your mouth shut. I am very aware of the definition of "At-will employment." 

I think discussing politics with a co-worker is a minefield that can only result in hard feelings if two parties disagree. 

 

Like so many things we once could talk about, and now can't, people no longer seem to be willing/able to agree to disagree. Washington's dysfunctions aren't limited to our nation's Capitol, apparently. More's the pity.

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