business team in an argumentThe presidential debate was last week; the vice presidential debate is this Thursday; and the presidential election is next month. Most often, anything presidential equals politics, especially when it comes to our nation. On TV, in the magazines, even on street signs in your neighbor’s yard: The discussion of politics is everywhere. Yet, what about in the workplace?

Politics can be touchy, especially when it comes to hot topics such as abortion, gun control and health care. Similar to everyday life, discussions enhance relationships and they promote interpersonal communication between employees. But is it too risky to have political conversations with co-workers?

I think it’s inevitable that these types of discussions will arise. Politics affect how you live and work —sometimes drastically changing your quality of life. Like most other topics, politics is sure to come up on the job. Below are six tips for what to do and what not to do when engaging in political discussions in the work environment.

Do’s

Be respectful

Again, politics can be a touchy subject. If certain topics arise, remember to always be respectful of others. Sure, you may be passionate about an issue, but do not try to force your beliefs on others. Listen as they talk and allow them to freely discuss their viewpoints, just as you should discuss yours as they listen. There’s no need to talk over someone or shoot down his or her views; this is not a debate, it’s a friendly discussion.

Keep your perspective

Remember that you’re at work, not running for office. Talking about politics should be a discussion to express different views and ideologies. Again, it’s not a debate and you are not seeking to win an election. Think about where you are as you’re talking. Control your volume and watch your tone as politics can invoke strong emotions. You are still in the place where you work and will still have to associate with your colleagues once the discussion ends.

Stay professional

Everyone has different views on political issues and can voice them in any way they please —outside of their jobs. If see you the discussion going in a negative direction, deescalate it. Shouting matches, arguments and “political name-calling” and jabs are unprofessional. Practice all the common courtesies you would when regularly speaking with a colleague.

Don’ts

Don’t openly discuss politics at team meetings

Although I don’t see an issue with managers reminding employees to vote (this is a right we all have), it’s not a good idea to freely talk about politics in a slanted way during team meetings. You do not want to show your biases to employees and use language that openly endorses one party over another when addressing your team. All Republicans are…All Democrats do…Independents should…this type of language is stereotypical and should be avoided. Your employees don’t need you to tell them what to think and how to feel about politics.

Don’t send promotion emails

Sending mass emails to promote a political candidate or political event shows biases, especially if one party seems to be favored over another. It’s one thing to inform employees about voting, but it’s something completely different to alert them about a local political event. Do not send emails or any type of mass communication that seems to endorse a candidate or promote attendance to a political event. Communications with political content should not make any employee feel uncomfortable.

Don’t hold ‘political parties’

Everyone has office parties, but a party celebrating a political candidate should be avoided. Even if your office has parties for each type of candidate, this could encourage separation and exclusivity in the work environment. If you desire to celebrate something your preferred candidate or political party accomplished, do it outside of your job.

in Business Communication]