Political Politeness Trumps All
Wednesday, November 9th was a hard day — an unexpectedly hard day, thanks to political analysts. I woke up with a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach. A feeling similar to the time I found out my dog killed my neighbor’s guinea pig — empty with a sense of grief and no real explanation for the feeling. But it was still Wednesday, a day like any other day, so I made my avocado toast and went to work. As I got on I-20, I found myself filled with anticipation and with one question on my mind:
What would my coworkers say?
My grandma taught me never to discuss money, politics or religion at the dinner table. It should go without saying that the same rules apply in the workplace. However, in the world of digital marketing, that’s easier said than done. Thanks to our devotion to social media, I could tell you how about 70 percent of my coworkers fell on the political spectrum weeks before the election.
In digital marketing, having a social media presence is not only essential — it’s expected. It’s also understood that whatever you plan to share on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or anything else should be appropriate enough to share with family, friends, potential employers and coworkers. If you plan to discuss politics online, you’re potentially inviting a conversation offline, as well.
Dos and Don’ts
The discussion of politics is inevitable. For that reason, it’s good to be prepared for any conversation or situation that may come your way. Here are some simple dos and don’ts to ensure you will be a politically suave employee:
- Put some respeck on my name. Always, always, be respectful. Politics are very personal, and it can be difficult not to get defensive or upset.
Keep an open mind. Even if you don’t agree with your coworkers’ views, look at conversations as an opportunity to gain a new perspective. So many of us unfollow or unfriend people who disagree with our views on social media, but this does more harm than good. It gives you tunnel vision and doesn’t allow you to see why others voted the way they did.
- Know your boundaries. If a conversation with a coworker takes a turn for the worse, know when to walk away. Chances are, you’ll regret saying something out of anger. It’s also important to keep in mind that you will most likely not be changing your coworker’s political view. Keep things light, and if it gets too heated, disengage.
- Weigh the consequences. Ask yourself what you both will gain from this conversation. Will you be gaining new perspective on a controversial topic or is it likely that you will be engaging in a socially heated topic that you are unwilling to consider keeping an open mind about? Remember, “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
- Be mindful of your digital persona. What you choose to say online plays a part in how people will perceive you offline. Make sure you evaluate each post before making it public. What is the intent behind this post? Is it educational, informational, or emotional? Personally, I like to think of the possibility of a post going viral. Would I want the whole world to see my post? If the answer is no, then don’t post it.
- Lie. Never feel obligated to discuss your political stance or lie about it if you’re afraid of what your coworker may think. You have a right to your opinion, so don’t anyone persuade you otherwise.
- Allow emotions to take over. This is especially true in the digital world. It is easy to sit behind a computer and type away your frustration without actually having to face someone, but that doesn’t mean your words are any less impactful or hurtful. Thoughtfully review each post before responding to a comment or posting a new article (and be sure to check your source so you don’t look like a ninny).
- Bulldoze. No one likes a bully, on- or offline. If your sole purpose is to push your political agenda onto your coworker, then keep your words to yourself. Political discussions should serve as a means to further each other’s views and opinions in a civil manner.
- Roll over. If a coworker continues to discuss politics with you and you’ve reached your limit, say so nicely. That doesn’t mean you’ve given up your stance or abandoned your principles — you’re just being respectful of the boundaries of discourse.
Know When to Move Forward
The election is over, and the new presidential term has yet to begin. Throughout this presidency and every one after it, your coworkers will discuss their opinions on- and offline. The bottom line is: that’s okay. Know what’s in your control and what’s not. Take a deep breath, remember these simple dos and don’ts, and if things get too out of hand, don’t be afraid to speak up or ask for help from HR or company leaders.
Disclaimer: This blog post does not reflect the political views of Nebo. And that’s what’s great about working at a human-centered agency. They understand that employees are humans — humans with feelings and beliefs, humans who spend most of their waking hours at work.
At the end of the day, you can’t really separate work from life. That’s why Nebo encourages us to take a stand for what we believe in — respectfully. There’s not a lot we’re discouraged from sharing here at Nebo. In fact, the only things I can think of are spreading racism, sexism, homophobia and bigotry.
In that case, Nebo kindly asks that you eff off.