Posted November 02, 2012 by

How to Discuss Politics at Work

Rosemary Haefner of Careerbuilder

Politics are on everyone’s mind, but workers may feel more comfortable keeping it out of the office. Sixty-six percent of workers don’t share their political affiliation at work, and 28 percent of workers said they feel like they need to keep their affiliation secret around the office.

The national survey was conducted online within the U.S. by Harris Interactive© on behalf of CareerBuilder among more than 4,100 U.S. workers ages 18 and over between August 13 and September 6, 2012.

The study also found that men are more likely than women to share their political beliefs at work, with 37 percent of men sharing their affiliation compared to 31 percent of women.

Eighty-two percent of respondents said that they plan to vote in November, while 52 percent of workers believe that the President of the United States has an actual effect on the unemployment rate.

“It is easy for a conversation about politics in the office to become an argument about politics,” said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at CareerBuilder. “For the most part, people want to avoid controversy in the office as much as possible. Avoiding discussions of politics may be one way they can do that.”

Mum’s the Word

Ninety-eight percent of workers don’t have U.S. Presidential campaign items or decorations on display in their office. Workers who keep their political affiliations secret at work usually do so because they don’t feel politics should be discussed in the office unless it affects their job (68 percent) and only 13 percent keep their affiliation secret because they think their co-workers mostly support the opposing party.

Openness by Age

Employees new to the workforce and the voting population are less likely than their older co-workers to share their political affiliations around the office. Twenty-one percent of employees between 18 and 24 share their political opinions at work, compared to 29 percent of workers 25-34 years old, and 36 percent of workers the age 35 and older.

Tips to Discuss By

Rosemary Haefner offers the following tips for workers who find themselves in a conversation about politics with their coworkers:

  1. Find things you agree on – Discussing facts and values you agree upon can help ensure the conversation remains respectful
  2. Deal only with the facts – Exaggerating and spinning facts are common ways to start an argument
  3. Pay attention to their tone and body language – If your coworker becomes quiet or overly defensive, it is best to back off and steer the conversation back to respect and agreement
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