The office snack chamber is a great place for coffee and doughnuts, but the wrong place for a Tea Party.
At least that’s the opinion of workplace etiquette experts, who advise keeping all talk of politics away from the workplace you wish to succeed in.
“It’s a waste of time, it zaps your energy, and it rubs people the wrong way,” warns Jacqueline Whitmore, author of the workplace etiquette guide, “Business Class.”
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Executive coach Barbara Frankel agrees: “Generally, it polarizes and becomes a divider,” she explains. “People remember — ‘Oh, he’s in that camp, she’s in that camp. I can’t speak to her, we’re just so different.’”
Colleagues — including some with notions you find abhorrent — may try to bait you. Though you may be tempted to change their views, you’d do better to change the subject, Frankel says, recommending a three-step process.
“Unhook yourself, physically,” she offers. “Acknowledge their feelings — ‘I can see you feel passionately about this’ — then say, ‘I prefer not to talk about politics.’ That’s it.”
Meanwhile, keep an ear on your own water cooler-side babbling. It’s but a misdemeanor of decorum to make an offhanded joke at the president’s expense, but a cardinal breach of politesse to stage a Lincoln-Douglas debate against an unwilling colleague.
“When you push your views on other people, that’s when it becomes bad etiquette,” Whitmore says.