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Are You Talking Politics in the Office?

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Regardless of political affiliation, it is clear that the drama unfolding in our nation’s capital is a major distraction. Minute-to-minute news flashes take up a great deal of real estate on our social media feeds, not to mention the national news sources contributing “breaking news” at all hours of the day. Every media alert and the time spent digesting them can cause a disturbance to the rhythm of our workdays.
It’s a wonder we can get any work done at all with all of the political distractions in our world. But work we must, so here are a few recommendations for how to stay focused on the work at hand and keep politics from hampering your productivity:
Keep political conversations out of the office
The office is the wrong arena in which to discuss polarizing political issues. When passions and opinions run deep, you can easily find yourself in total disagreement with coworkers and involved in a discussion that has quickly gotten out of hand. Teamwork and esprit de corps are essential for companies to operate smoothly, and there is no better way to undermine both than by debating the current political climate. As far as politics in the office goes, the old saying, “Keep your opinions to yourself,” resonates loud and clear.
Track how much time you spend checking social media and reading political news
We all know that social media can undermine productivity, especially when you fall down the Internet rabbit hole of social media feeds and trending news stories. You may find yourself watching short clips at first, which can spiral into binging full news segments, and ultimately and even live television. The best self-enforced policy is to stop checking your feeds altogether and devote working hours to work. If you must devour the latest breaking news, be sure to set an alarm for time spent on it so that you limit the distraction and return attention to the tasks at hand.
Don’t wear clothes or buttons with political slogans
Wearing buttons or clothing (hats count!) emblazoned with political slogans or messages is like throwing gasoline on a fire. It’s important to have opinions and to voice them at the right moments, however a political message on your shirt is, consciously and unconsciously, making a public statement. It’s best to leave that sort of attire for the weekend and when you are not at work.
Be polite and respectful when someone disagrees with you
Let’s face it: we don’t always agree with our coworkers, family, and friends. Sometimes it is difficult to acknowledge another person’s opinion when there is such disagreement. If you find yourself in the midst of conversation about politics, be aware of your manners and decorum. Do not turn confrontational or disrespectful. This is America and everyone is entitled to his or her political leanings even if you find them repugnant. Be polite and disengage immediately.
There’s never been much room for distractions in the workplace. Today and tomorrow are no different. Turn off the background noise, tune into your work, and you’ll find yourself more productive and, dare I say, happier too.
Symmetry. Because printing isn’t always black or white.