Dealing with Personal Politics in the Workplace

07 Jul

You know the old saying about never discussing politics or religion? Well, that couldn’t be more true in the workplace. Of course, when you combine a group of unrelated people and expect them to become teammates, personal issues are bound to rise to the surface as they get to know each other and find the best ways of working together. What may begin as a simple explanation for why a certain employee cannot work on a Sunday could erupt into a heated discussion about religion and, let’s face it, the office is just not the place for heated personal discussions. Besides leaving people squirming in their seats with discomfort, these debates tend to cause stress and sidetrack employees from optimally performing their job duties. Do your best to deal with personal politics in the workplace by following these tips:

Keep water cooler talk to a minimum. Every office has one (or more): a group of people who buddy-up around the break room and hash out details of their personal lives. They also tend to discuss workplace politics, and to gossip about fellow employees. Avoiding the water cooler scenario is one very effective way to minimize your involvement in personal discussions.

Leave your personal life at home, where it belongs. The office is no place to introduce your opinions about religion, sexuality, politics, and the like. If you want to avoid the drama of heated personal debates on the job, then keep yourself to yourself.

Adopt an office policy of diversity and acceptance. The more accepting you and other employees are toward differences in personality and belief systems, the less an issue diversity will be, and the less it will arise as a topic of heated discussion.

Participate in workplace team building activities. Maintaining a focus on working together as a team with a common goal will go a long way toward bridging the gap caused by differences in personal politics.

Make it a point to be open and honest about circumstances in which personal politics will affect job performance or availability. When an employee has an understanding with the employer about how issues pertaining to personal politics will be handled in the workplace, the tendency to call attention to such issues is lessened.

Everyone has a personal life, and everyone has certain beliefs about how personal issues should be dealt with. However different these personal issues and opinions are, there is one undeniable fact that most employees will agree with: the workplace is not the place to get personal. Avoid uncomfortable personal discussions by following these tips.

About the Author: Debra Blair is a full-time writer with a focus on management and business. She also enjoys writing about credit repair and finance and is a regular contributor at


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