(2-minute read)

It’s Election Day, so let’s talk about politics. More specifically, let’s talk about remaining work friends when you disagree with your colleagues’ political beliefs.

In our personal lives, we naturally surround ourselves with like-minded people. But at work, our roles require that we collaborate with lots of different people. We don’t have the luxury of curating our colleagues to align with our political beliefs. Getting past a political divide, especially during an election season as emotionally charged as this one, takes forethought. Here are three things to think about before heading to work tomorrow.

Play the long game

Playing the long game is a conscious decision not to engage in political discussions to convert a colleague to your thinking. As its election day, the die is already cast. Instead, decide how you want to be thought of by your colleagues after this highly charged moment has passed. If you value your working relationship with a colleague who has differing views, be upfront about talking -or not talking -about the election. If your colleague needs to either gloat or rant, listen. If the conversation gets heated, invoke a 24-hour rule. No political discussions for 24-hours while everyone gets their emotions in check.


Ask questions

Each of us is well acquainted with our own political beliefs. We know the motivations, family and experience history that shape those opinions. Chances are, we don’t know the experiences that shaped our colleagues’ points of view. Now is an excellent time to ask questions and learn more;

  • What don’t I know?
  • What are the issues that affect you the most?
  • Can you tell me more?

These questions help establish the context that shapes their political perspectives. The two of you might still disagree, but you will be closer to understanding why.


Appreciate in advance

Before heading to work tomorrow, think about who you are most likely to interact with during the day. Think about why you value them and respect them as a colleague. Remember specific instances where you worked well together. Connecting people with positive experiences inserts humanity into a day likely to be filled with ideology.

Many organizations are doing great work to encourage productive conversations about differing political views. David Byrne’s (yes, Talking Heads’ David Byrne) project We Are Not Divided, Braver Angels and Make America Dinner Again are but a few.

Even if we believe in different things, we can agree to disagree and still respect each other.


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