Advice Corner

I have a colleague who persistently attempts to engage me in a conversation about politics.   How can I let this person know that I don’t want to talk about my personal viewpoints while at the same time preserving what is otherwise a really good relationship?

Feeling Cornered

 

Dear Cornered,

Thanks for a really timely question.  There is a lot of conflict in our culture following the recent presidential election and many people feel passionate about current events and are compelled to discuss their opinions with others. Not all workplace political discussions are detrimental. Some people may have a desire to verbally process their anxiety, while others are genuinely interested in what their colleagues think.  As a global business, CLV is fortunate to employ people from other countries who are interested in learning more about the U.S. and other governance systems.

There are professional reasons to avoid conversations where you are not comfortable asserting your personal opinion:

  1. Colleagues could form conclusions about you based on your opinion.
  2. You could let your emotions get the best of you.
  3. You could be attacked for your opinions or be accused of attacking others.

If someone is trying to engage you in political conversations and you prefer not to be involved, a collegial, yet direct approach is best.  Simply tell the person that you prefer not to talk politics with work colleagues, then change the subject and ask them something about a work project or other area of their interest.  This will send the message that you value them and clarify your preference.

If you are in a group and the conversation turns political, you can either politely excuse yourself or request that the conversation be redirected.  Just say something like “hey guys, let’s not talk politics”.  Then introduce another topic.