How to Handle Heated Political Conversations at the Office

If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably tired of hearing coworkers ramble on about politics in the workplace. Even though we know it can take a psychological toll on us—more than one in four employees say they feel stressed out because of political discussions at work—some people still yammer on about health care, immigration, gun control, and the revolving door of Trump’s White House.

So, how can you deal with these political junkies who have different views than you, or avoid talking about the stressful subject altogether in the workplace?

Don’t Offer Your Views

“Refrain from openly sharing your politics until you know what someone else’s politics are,” says Staci McIntosh, a human resources professional and author of the One-Hour Handbook. “If you know your colleague has opposing viewpoints from yours and is clearly trying to get your opinion, say, ‘I love it when people are involved in our democracy, and I really admire your passion! But I have a policy of not talking about it in the workplace.’ Then change the subject immediately.” That allows you to honor the person’s feelings without engaging in a discussion that may not be productive, she says.

Don’t Engage

It may sound harsh but you don’t have to be mean to dissuade coworkers from arguing. Either skirt the conversation and let others ramble on, or let colleagues know that you don’t want to talk about politics at work—and then maybe add a topic you’d love to discuss if they ever bring it up. Just be polite.

Change the Subject

Next time you’re in the midst of a topic you’d rather not hear about, try to gently shift the direction of the conversation. A lighthearted question like, “Did you guys see what happened in the game last night?” may move the conversation to an easier-to-navigate topic.

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Take It Outside

If you’ve engaged in a dispute and it seems to be never-ending, let your colleagues know that you respect their differences and would like to move on. Still want to grapple it out? Find the right time and place; perhaps ask colleagues out for drinks after work and explain you’d rather duke it out there.

Alert a Manager

If it really gets bad, don’t hesitate to talk to your manager or the human resources director. Afraid of sounding like a tattle tale? You don’t have to name names; just state what you’ve noticed happening and how it’s hurting business. You can frame your request instead of a total whine into something like, “I think we’d be more productive if we could keep discussion focused on work-related topics.” Still an issue? That’s where it may help to have an HR contact handy.

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Be Selective on­­­­­ Social Media

Even if you don’t talk about politics at work, you could fire up coworkers who are on your social media feed and see your posts there. Your best best is to keep posting and tell them you don’t discuss politics at work should they ask about a post, or use a filter so colleagues can’t see your political rants online. Whether you like bringing up the latest Trump drama or you don’t want to hear any more about it, use these tips to make sure that talking about politics at work doesn’t ruin your day—or your career.