Religion, abortion, sex-life or politics: these are just a few taboo subjects that we should steer clear of at work. Should we though? Is political talk at work politically correct?
Freedom of expression is an acquired right
According to Article 10 of the Human Rights Act, everyone has the right to freedom of expression. However, discussing controversial subjects at work can make your colleagues uncomfortable and influence their opinions of you. Knowing your colleagues’ political views is not always the right approach.
Trying to be pleasant at all times and building a great rapport with the people you work with every day is a great idea! It is of paramount importance to remember when discussing politics at work that it’s not only about what you say, but also how you say it.
Brexit – the hot topic of the year
Brexit has been on everybody’s lips since July 2016; more so in the workplace or even after-work social gatherings. Brexit has divided opinions as it has divided the country since voting took place. Some believe there are certain benefits associated with staying in the EU like trade deals; while others feel the UK is losing its cultural and national identity with the influx of migrants who are willing to work for low wages.
You’ll often find that there is rarely a middle ground when discussing these volatile hot topics. Very often, opinions are tied to moral beliefs leading to a long road of intense conversation and arguments; causing animosity at work the following day or creating an intimidating atmosphere in the workplace.
There is nothing to stop you from expressing your thoughts about Brexit. However, beware, showing your political preference will classify you. It can sometimes be complicated to free yourself from a label. It is best to play it safe with subtle answers and keep your opinions to yourself.
It is advisable not to do anything stupid like wearing a T-shirt expressing your political views at work or wearing a T-shirt with the company logo going to a political rally.
Social media can get you in hot water
Making heated comments on social media, even if you find them hilarious, can easily offend people, tarnishing the hard-earned reputation you may have built for yourself. Given the amount of time you spend at work, and the need to get along and work side-by-side with your colleagues, having an opinion about a taboo subject is probably not worth it.
Even though discussing politics could help you to forge bonds with colleagues who share your political views, employees should make more of an effort to put politics aside and focus on what they are paid for – things would be a lot less complicated as clients and customers alike could be turned off if you are too opinionated about specific issues.
Know when to walk away!
If you feel like political chit-chat is getting heated or confrontational, you should be smart about it – it’s probably best to walk away. On the other hand, do keep an open mind about your co-workers views as it may enlighten your opinions on a touchy subject.
Do remember that the workplace is a unique environment that brings together people of different backgrounds and viewpoints. It’s unrealistic to think that anyone will change their deeply held political opinions after a single conversation, no matter how convincing your argument.
In short, no UK law states that employees aren’t allowed to discuss politics at work. However, we should all be respectful of everyone’s views and make sure that these discussions don’t impact on our health or productivity.
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