Navigating Politics in the Office

If you have strong political preferences, it can be challenging when you encounter someone who has a different point of view. If that someone happens to work in the same office space as you, listening to them loudly asserting their beliefs for all to hear can be awkward or even frustrating. If you want to explain to them each reason why they’re is wrong, resist the urge!


We’ve compiled a list of tips on how to handle political conversations in the office. Use them to help navigate yourself out of a potentially awkward encounter.


1. Don’t.


Unless you work for a political campaign, there’s no reason to be discussing politics at work - and especially no reason to bring them up in an interview.


However, if you believe it is absolutely necessary to discuss your political views, do so with reason. Courtney, a Hiring Expert at ADP, points out that you must “be sure you can connect with the values and leadership within any organization.”1 Therefore, if you can’t justify a reason for bringing up your views (i.e., in an interview, a story about your political beliefs somehow showcases a value shared by the company), err on the side of caution and don’t mention them.


2. Evaluate the Environment


Some spaces naturally tend to lend themselves to open discussion. Rachel, a Hiring Expert at Eaton, explains that “If you are in a very free-thinking company that encourages differing thoughts and ideas both personally and professionally, and they have company policies and procedures in place that support such discussions, you may be able to be more free with what you share and with whom.”2


However, this won’t be the case with all companies. Jamie, a Hiring Expert at Worthington Industries explains that because each company has a different policy, it’s important to “steer clear of speaking about Politics and Religion in most organizations, at least until you've been employed long enough to know the culture.”3


Ultimately, Rachel points out that the easiest way to judge the environment is through the company’s policy guidelines. The best way to be sure talking politics won’t get you fired is to “Speak with your HR representative to understand clearly what is and is not acceptable at your company.”4 If you’re going to talk politics, make sure you’re in a setting where it’s allowable first.


  1. Be Rational

If you do decide your political beliefs are important enough to you that they need to be revealed and discussed in the office, speak about them rationally. Never belittle or attack someone else for their opinions, even if they have no rationalization behind their beliefs.


As Stephanie, a Hiring Expert at AT&T Inc., points out, “The conduct expected of me is to treat my peers, customers, clients etc. with respect and consideration. Using that as my baseline has helped me avoid distressing anyone with my conduct.”5 Follow Stephanie’s example and remain civil, even in the case of disagreement.


Politics are a tabooed subject for a reason. Although they might seem like good water cooler talk, keep your beliefs to yourself. If you must discuss your views, do so rationally after evaluating the environment.


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