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5 Strategies For Handling the Co-Worker Who Won’t Stop Talking About Politics

Topics: Work Culture

At this stage of the election cycle, things are really starting to heat up. Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee, although the GOP isn’t exactly rallying around him, at least not just yet. Things are also tense for Democrats as Senator Bernie Sanders and Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continue to vie for their party’s nomination. With all of this going on, some people are getting really excited about politics, and this has the potential to create tensions, distractions, or even divisions within the workplace. If you have a co-worker who has been talking about politics a bit too much for your liking and you’d like to see a change, consider whether one or more of these strategies might work for you.

politics at work

(Photo Credit: Sharon Mollerus/Flickr)

1. Honesty.

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Why not try being honest with your co-worker about how all of the political discussion is making you feel? Rather than suffering in silence, express that you’re not enjoying these frequent conversational turns toward the election. With about six months left before election day, it might be best to calm things down now rather than wait and potentially lose your cool further down the road. Tell your co-worker that you think it’s a little much. Tell them specifically how their discourse is rubbing you the wrong way (trying to bring others to their position, speaking too disparagingly about the other side, etc.) and explain that it makes you feel tense and uncomfortable. It’s okay to express your honest feelings here; in fact, it’s a really good place to start.

2. The “I’m-just-not-that-into-this” method.

Some people get really excited about politics, and they love to share all of their ideas with others and talk through all of the latest happenings. One simple way to attempt to shut down your eager co-worker is simply to tell them that politics just isn’t really your thing. You could even say that you find too much talk about it a little boring – no one likes to be boring. (Be careful with this one though – this election is unique with new surprises around every turn. These days, telling someone who’s very political that you find this stuff boring might just be taken as a challenge to convince you otherwise.)

3. The digression….

When your co-worker turns the conversation toward politics (let’s say, in the lunchroom), turn it right back around toward something else. If they say that they saw so-and-so say such-and-such on television last night, try talking about something that you watched instead. “Oh, I didn’t see that, I was watching this amazing documentary about Jackie Robinson; has anyone else seen it?” If all else fails, ask the over-eager co-worker in question something about their life or their past, like where they grew up, went to school, how they met their spouse, etc. People love to talk about themselves.

4. The “Hey listen, I don’t disagree with you,” approach.

Try explaining to your co-worker that even though you agree with them politically (if this is in fact the case; you shouldn’t compromise your integrity and say you agree when you don’t) you still don’t think this kind of conversation is good for the office. Explain that a lot of people feel you should never discuss politics at work. It’s distracting and divisive.

The important thing here is that we all get along well and work together harmoniously. Just because you seem to be on the same page politically (at least in the big-picture sense) doesn’t mean that you’ll continue to agree once the discussion gets more specific. Even if you do, these kinds of conversations are inappropriate for the workplace. Saying that you agree with all or part of what your co-worker has been saying should help them to feel more relaxed and open to hearing what you have to say about why they should pull back a little.

5. Call on someone else to help you.

If none of the strategies explored above help the situation progress, consider speaking with a manager or boss about what you’re going through and how you’re feeling. These methods are meant to help you try to squash these talks on your own without talking to a higher-up. However, this political season is going to go on for quite a while yet, and it’s bound to be pretty intense, so if all of these efforts fail you, call on someone you trust to help you. Your manager should be on your side here.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a co-worker who talks about politics too much? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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