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How do you navigate political talk with coworkers?

A Minnesota expert gave some tips for talking politics – or avoiding it – at work.

MINNEAPOLIS — Political conversations are important, but experts in the Twin Cities said those conversations aren't always safe at work. 

According to global staffing firm Robert Half, 22% of Twin Cities workers said it’s not appropriate to discuss politics with colleagues, while 10% feel it’s OK. Most respondents – 68% – said it depends on the situation.

Elizabeth Hang, division director of Robert Half in the Twin Cities, spoke to KARE 11 about the firm's conclusions on political talk at work.

“Some political talk is inevitable, but workers need to be extra sensitive to and respectful of others’ perspectives,” said Hang. “Even with the best intentions, miscommunication can occur and lead to unnecessary conflict.”

Robert Half has four tips for navigating political talk with coworkers:

  1. Tread lightly. If you choose to participate in political conversations, keep it light and constructive. Should the discussion become confrontational, move on to another subject.
  2. Decline politely. Don’t feel pressured into sharing your political views. It’s OK to bow out of a conversation and let others know you prefer not to chime in.
  3. Speak up. If a colleague says or does something that makes you uncomfortable, pull the person aside and explain what’s bothering you. For more serious matters, consult your manager or human resources.
  4. Don’t bring up politics. The best thing to do is to not bring up politics at all. And steer clear of making assumptions about what people think. They may surprise you.

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