You might feel more comfortable talking about the latest Brangelina drama than hashing out who lost the latest presidential debate, even if you are equally educated about both topics. Why? For every politically public person out there, there are probably three politically private people. If you feel you belong to the latter group, it does’t mean you are any less passionate, just maybe not as public about your voting choices. One place you should never be pressured to discuss politics at is work. After all, there is a reason why politics (along with religion) are universally not to be discussed in the workplace (or at Thanksgiving). It’s just awkward and uncomfortable for some to outwardly discuss their beliefs. If you feel you have unwillingly entered a political discussion at work, here are some ways to respectfully get yourself out of it and back to, you know, your job.
1. Do all the listening-
Listening to what others have to say about the latest news in politics is sometimes all you need to do. If they are discussing a particular event that you don’t particularly have anything to add to, don’t. Simply listen and let them know their observations are interesting. If a certain political event is being discussed, let the ones who have an opinion on it do all the talking. You don’t have to comment, even if you saw it as well. If you are feeling ostracized, comment on a part of the event that is politically neutral, like the location, the moderator, or the audience interaction.
2. Change the subject-
Just like the weather, some people bring up current events in order to fill an awkward silence. If the most current event was a political debate and you see what they did there, help them out by taking the conversation in a new direction. Your response to the newly proposed debate topic might be “Yeah I was at a soccer game so I will be reading the cliffs notes today, but did you know there’s an art festival this weekend?” This simple redirection might save you from a ten minute, probably biased debrief you weren’t exactly asking for.
3. Default to your work-
Remember that todo list that has just gone from one page to two sitting on your desk? That list will never seem so important as it will when you find yourself unwillingly entering a political discussion in the lunchroom. Kindly remind your colleague that you need to get back to work or you will be tied to your desk for dinner. This tactic can be used any time of day and if the two above options have failed as no one is going to fault you for actually doing work at work.