Talking Politics Is Now Okay At Work, Except When It's Not

Illustration for article titled Talking Politics Is Now Okay At Work, Except When Its Not

"You’ve heard that rule about never discussing politics at work?" asks the Times' Lisa Belkin. "That’s so last election." Nowadays, one survey found that 67% of respondents thought political discussion at the office was totally okay. Publicist Rachel Kempster used to be bothered by political talk at work. Now she says, "I put an Obama poster on my office door. Co-workers are sending around anti-Palin Web sites and I’m not bothered by it. Everyone around me is wearing their politics on their sleeve." It's always nice to be able to share your beliefs with people, but is this new openness good for everyone? And why is it happening now?Belkin also tells the story of an anonymous administrative assistant, whose Republican co-worker sends emails "slamming Obama, Clinton and Biden, and started distributing McCain yard signs out of his office last week." This vocal McCainiac is also her boss's friend, so she's afraid to complain. And, of course, there are the perils of assuming others share your views. I tend to test people by saying "Sarah Palin?" and kind of raising my eyebrows. Either they start to catalog her idiotic moments, or they just think I'm insane. So what's the best way to talk politics at the office? Belkin tells the story of a young Republican at a tux shop, who began lecturing customers on Obama's inexperience. Her boss reminded her "that while the man who had the job before her was, at 49, more experienced, and she was barely into her 20s, he 'didn’t last a year' in the position, and here she was, practically running the shop." Cute, but doesn't exactly answer the question. Belkin adds that all workplace political discussion should be conducted "quietly and politely." But one person's politeness is another's harassment, especially on an issue as sensitive as the selection of the next leader of our country. So do you just keep your mouth shut? Or do you let loose, and worry about the consequences later? Belkin's piece brings up another question: why are office prohibitions against political talk loosening now? Is it just a function of the kids these days, with their anything-goes workplace culture, their flip-flops, and their iPhones? Or are we talking more because we just can't help it? Is everyone — Republican and Democrat — so dissatisfied with the status quo that we can't keep our mouths shut, even in meetings? More positively, are people more excited about Obama v. McCain than they were about the lackluster matchup of Kerry v. Bush? If so, maybe things will start sucking less in this country — and maybe we'll still have jobs to go to in 2012. Talking Politics in the Office [NY Times]


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Scar It O' Scare-a

I work with a self professed "Jesus freak" conservative and I am the total opposite and we have very honest and adult conversations about politics. We can talk about our sides without breaking out in to an argument and I think it is fine.

I like hearing his side because I tend to surround myself with people who have the same beliefs as me.

As long as people can be mature and civilized and not screech when some disagrees it can be done.