DIY

Do you talk politics at the office? Take the poll.

Some people seem to revel in taking part in political discourse. Others, however, avoid it like the plague. Do you ever initiate political discussion at the office? Do you avoid it? Do you have an office policy about it, either official or unofficial?

Some people seem to revel in taking part in political discourse. Others, however, avoid it like the plague. Do you ever initiate political discussion at the office? Do you avoid it? Do you have an office policy about it, either official or unofficial?

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I was recently asked to troubleshoot a user's printing issue, and while I was doing my thing, he was making a disparaging comment to another coworker about one of the four people running on the current presidential tickets. The comment was not only out of line, but it was downright wrong, at least in my opinion. Years ago, I would have jumped into the discussion. Today, however, I usually avoid them.

Don't get me wrong, I love to discuss politics and issues. But I prefer to choose the time, the place, and the person with whom I'll engage. In the case described above, the comment was so preposterous that I wouldn't have wanted to engage him anyway. I could have challenged him to back up his assertion, but discretion being the better part of valor, I decided to say nothing. After all, who needs confrontations at the workplace, regardless of the subject?

Even though I will answer such questions when asked, I've made it an unspoken policy of mine to avoid political and ideological discussions with the users I support. At one time I would have welcomed the chance to try to change someone's mind, which almost never happens, or treat it as a bout, seeing who can provide the best argument for the respective positions. But for some reason, I've learned to avoid such confrontations and/or discussions in the workplace.

In today's heated political climate, it's nearly impossible to avoid exposure to it. But are you a participant or a bystander? Are you aggressive about it or more passive?

In my case, it's easy for me to avoid political discussions at the workplace -- I have a great outlet for that very thing!

Poll question:

39 comments
Osiyo53
Osiyo53

Discussing politics, or religion, in the work place during business hours is one of those things which might be fun or interesting to do. But it is just asking for trouble in the work place. Plus, there really isn't any benefit to it or good reason to do it except to vent, feel like you've had your say and expressed your opinion, etc. When I voted in this poll, I said I'd answer if asked. Simply because I always do. Ask me to my face what my opinion is about anything and I'll give my opinion straight out. Whether I think others might agree and approve or not. That's just me. I've given answers that have flat shocked others, and/or left them in disbelief. I just shrug and tell em that if they don't like what I have to say ... don't ask. In any event, I'll give my opinion about political questions if asked. But avoid trying to argue about the subject or trying to change someone else's mind. Against my principles for one. I was raised with a philosophy of, "Believe as you wish. And I'll believe as I wish." Secondly, it's a waste of business time where I and anyone else should be attending to work matters. And no good would come of it, anyway. Besides, 99% of what yah hear someone say about this or that politician, group of politicians, political party, campaign platform, etc is pure hogwash. If I really want to know something about a politician, political party, etc ... I do some research to look up verifiable facts as versus listening to rhetoric, exaggerations, spins, and partial facts carefully edited and presented to back up the speaker's point of view.

doug
doug

No way. First off, people have stereotypes concerning certain political beliefs. You strive in business to project a certain persona, why screw it up with a political argument that might interfere with it? Secondly, maybe 10% at least, of people really think the other side is either immoral or stupid. That's means there's a 10% chance of your manager or boss hearing your beliefs, and really believing that you don't qualify for a job.

sboverie
sboverie

On the job, there is a time and place. The time is not when you are fixing a problem or doing your job. Politics in the US are very polorized. We don't discuss politics, we tend to take a side and root for them like we would for a football team. We are lacking in scepticism when we take at face value the political information given to us; if we would treat it as propaganda and dig deeper we may be able to bridge the gap between one side and the other. Because we do not discuss politics, people get defensive or angry when challenging certain points and this divides the discussion into trying to change someone's mind rather than to share ideas about idiology. The workplace has enough inter organizational politics to trigger drama without the need to bring in national or international politics.

Tig2
Tig2

I would have to know the person I was speaking with extremely well to take that kind of chance. It seems like those kinds of discussions get one labeled and not well. I would prefer to be regarded based on the quality of my work and not the quality of my off topic conversation. That said, I will LISTEN to whatever someone has to say on the subject.

jdclyde
jdclyde

If you don't put the proper Aleluyas in at the right time.....

jsbell
jsbell

If you work in an office that has more or less direct ties to well-known and well-positioned political figures, the risk is high. However, I am generally willing to fully engage with anyone who has a reputation for being able to compartmentalize their work effort from their political interests. These folks will not peg you as a "bad" or "stupid" person just because you disagree with their positions on political ideology or religion. These are "safe" people. Even Jesus said we shouldn't get into it with people who were likely to use our conversations with them as an opportunity to do us harm. Good policy generally. Having said all that, there have been moments where someone has said something so bad, so harmful to someone else, it would be wrong to let it go. It would be like watching someone get beat up and just do nothing but look on in superior silence or walk away. So when someone else is getting a raw deal, and its not just about me defending my own turf, I am very likely to jump in and do what I can to set things right. The many unfounded, irrational, and even bizarre attacks on Palin are a good example of this. It's one thing to disagree over policy and theology. It's something far more base and unhealthy to participate in a campaign of denigration and personal ridicule, whether actively or passively. To some extent, we are all the keeper of our brother's (or sister's) reputation.

flausher
flausher

Why talk politics when there are enough arguments going on already? people get reallllyy opinionated over politics, so i try to keep clear unless i feel really strongly about something..

dogknees
dogknees

Everyone behaves reasonably and no one expects their opinion to be taken seriously. Like most things, people taking themselves way to seriously is the real issue, not the topic. We're all idiots at one time or another, we all make stupid sweeping statements and we all think we know better than everyone else. So lighten up and realise that your opinions are no more important or relevant then anyone elses and act accordingly.

binarypc
binarypc

I actually try to avoid the conversation. Most people that I work with who know who I am as a person, will know how I am going to vote. I think that sometimes it causes two much distraction from the work we are trying to get done together. However, if its friends and its after hours or in things outside of work, I am more than willing to have a healthy discussion of the pros and cons of one candidate vs the other.

NotSoChiGuy
NotSoChiGuy

If I do get lassoed into a political (or other hot button) topic at work, I try to make sure there are at least 3 people taking part in the conversation; just because you never know when you'll offend a wingnut and send them crying crocodile tears to HR. Failing that, a surly sounding "they [politicians] can all take a long walk off a short pier with rocks in their pockets" is usually enough to end the conversation. :)

DelbertPGH
DelbertPGH

I work in an office where the business is the stock market and there are a lot of highly intelligent people, and you would think that they would tend to be very politically informed. But nope, what information they have tends to be a small selection of all the facts available to them. You get 60 seconds into a discussion and people start shrugging their shoulders and looking at you like you were some sort of information bully, like you were a sixth grader beating up third graders at dodgeball. I wind up limiting my intense discussions to bulletin boards (and with my wife, the history professor.) Unfortunately, half the people on bulletin boards get by on an ounce of information and a pint of ideology, freshened up by wing-nut websites. It gets frustrating.

jemorris
jemorris

The bbs & forums are kinda scary in the fact it makes you realize how radical and grossly uninformed people are, but I also realize that lots of these folks put up a very BIG talk because the anonymity factor. They feel safe and empowered behind they're little glowing screen.

SAStarling
SAStarling

"....get by on an ounce of information and a pint of ideology, freshened up by wing-nut websites" I like that one. I think I'll use it later. And yes, I totally agree with you.

gentlemanbill
gentlemanbill

It's my opinion that the large majority of the US population is basically ignorant about politics. Anytime I can try to educate someone about what's going on in politics, I try to do so by engaging in discussion, not polemics. The country is divided enough without engaging and then enraging in partisan political ranting.

jemorris
jemorris

Being involved with end-users a lot during my career in IT I have noticed though that the vast majority of people don't want to be educated about anything! Most would rather be told what is truth or how to do something rather than trying to take a little initiative and learning. A most classic example and even more volatile is religion. Do a study on any faith; Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism... take your pick and you will find dozens of variations of each one. I know it is more involved than this, but they develop followings because of some smooth talker or they hear what soothes their conscience best. Politics isn't any different, most people don't want to get the facts or info for themselves. They go for the one that talks the talk best or makes them feel the most warm & fuzzy inside.

jdclyde
jdclyde

There are a few others though, that are completely irrational, and there is nothing to discuss. Hey repeat a talking point, but when asked "why" they get mad. They are a waste of my time.

jemorris
jemorris

In my early 20's I was passionate about politics and would research candidates (this was before the internet) as best as possible with the limited resources of the time and would try to stay informed on a candidate's record as well as the lies (er.. I mean promises) they would spew during election times. As this was the time when I was first entering the workforce I often found myself working alongside folks who had lived through the end of the "Great Depression", WWII, Korean war, and Vietnam. First let me point out that I vote for the person not the Party. One of the things that gets me is BLIND loyalties to the party, I've had many relatives like that, also part of the group listed above. I've gotten into lively discussions with former co-workers and past family members that ended up just short of being a slugfest. All of these folks blamed the Republican party for each of the events listed about (well some of them blamed the Japanese for getting us into WWII and some blamed the Republicans for provoking the Japanese). One thing I liked to do that would make the other person sputter and throw them mentally off-balance during those discussions was if they brought up the thing about living in a "democracy", I would counter with "no we don't live in a democracy but a 'republic'". Thankfully in today's world we can more easily research facts and we know how blatantly liberal many of the news networks are.

jdclyde
jdclyde

because there is so much rubbish on the net, it is hard to know if what you are reading is credible or not. My favorite trick that libs like to pull when you bring up something they can't counter, is to attack you or your source. Things like "oh, you must be a ditto head", as if it were an insult. Sorry, not all of us spend our time watching reality tv. Obama is lying through his teeth right now on so many issues.... and no one is calling him on it. Pathetic.

jemorris
jemorris

That's the sound of sheep... or maybe it's a deep moo. They're all part of the mindless herd that wants to be told what to believe or what to do by the oh so pretty celebrity.

SAStarling
SAStarling

...you know the other person has no facts or legitimate points-of-view to debate with you on when all they do is call you names or try to peg you in a certain category. It's very sad that most of these folks can name every single one of the contestants on American Idol, but can't tell you who their Senators are. A very sad time indeed. I had a colleague (many, in fact) say to me one day "oh, I'm not into politics." I said "well, you'd better get into politics because politics is into you whether you know it or not." Those people are the ones I REALLY don't understand.

SAStarling
SAStarling

I totally agree with you. A lot of us here discuss politics together, but there is one who is trying to make it difficult for those of us who do. She says discussing politics only leads to fights, and it hurts her feelings. My friends and I realize that the only people who feel that way are factually unarmed and get frustrated when others try to discuss politics, so they just get red-faced and stomp away mad.

jdclyde
jdclyde

The problem is, so many people are never called on what/why they say, and think that just because they are passing something they heard and wanted to believe, you will be as stupid. When they realize they can't tell you what would give ANYONE a RIGHT to an college education? Nothing in the constitution there. When they realize they can't tell you what would give ANYONE a RIGHT to "FREE" healthcare? Nothing in the constitution there. When they realize they can't tell you what would give ANYONE a RIGHT to a tax REFUND if they didn't pay taxes? Nothing in the constitution there. The list of stupidity goes on....

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

is very politically active. We discuss politics. Religion too, for that matter. We don't agree on much, but we usually have something to offer one another. We were friends before she put me to work, that may have something to do with it. A few other coworkers and I discuss those infamously 'off limits' topics, but not to any real depth. If asked, I'll answer...

Joe_R
Joe_R

....with a very definite answer. Thanks for posting.

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

I'm the first person to vote and I voted "No-Not on your life..." and it's showing that I voted "If asked I'll answer..."

jstribling
jstribling

In your code, did you build a separateFromBallot(byRef voter as wageSlave) function? Otherwise, the chad.hang method may be invoked. As we all know, this can cause problems with garbage collection. Also, when the voter argument is of type homeless, there is a tendency for uncontrolled looping. Thus, multiple vote objects may be instantiated for the same voter. Of course, this may be desirable behavior depending on one's party affiliation, explaining a reluctance to undertake debugging of the Election.steal method.

danasmith
danasmith

I'm in awe of cogent political commentary guised as code! "...this may be desirable behavior..." - LOL!

Joe_R
Joe_R

I'm not sure why that's happening. How about this: vote early, and vote often!

OnTheRopes
OnTheRopes

How would I know?

Joe_R
Joe_R

I was editing and tweaking at the time ? mere seconds after I initially published the blog - and you might have attempted to respond to the poll, but something probably got lost in the interim. I would guess that the polls, for the most part, are pretty accurate. In this case, perhaps your answer was faster than my edit. Nonetheless, many thanks for reading and responding.

Joe_R
Joe_R

Re: the original blog piece. http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/helpdesk/?p=297 Do you discuss politics at the office? Take the poll.

jedmundson
jedmundson

I hold the belief "If you are arguing with an idiot, make sure that he (she) isn't doing the same thing." I don't discuss politics at the office.

jeb.hoge
jeb.hoge

I used to work in an office where we were all about the same age, demographic, and we'd have LIVELY lunchtime discussions, but once I left that bunch, I find myself much less inclined to engage others. I have friends all across the political spectrum, and while we have inklings about each others' beliefs, we don't tend to dig into them. I think there's a mutual unspoken agreement that it's best that way.

cupcake
cupcake

Last week I making a comment to my sister on the phone which was overheard by by cube-neighbor... boy did that start him ranting! I just let me go at it... he is another one of those 'sound bite' politicos that doesn't have a logical basis for his beliefs... I'd bet his politician of choice is party line or that he believes his politician is the best looking... I made the mistake once... never again!

jdclyde
jdclyde

would have been "excuse me, but I didn't realize I was talking to you", and then walk away. It is perfectly acceptable to be rude in return of someone being rude to you, and eavesdropping on your call. Or you could have taken the more direct approach and told him to go bugger off. Works either way..... ;\

jdclyde
jdclyde

:D Yeah, there are a lot of people afflicted with the same ailment as you, polititis. Thank goodness it isn't contagious. :p I TRY to be respectful, but every now and then, people only understand a very blunt reply. You probably haven't noticed, but I am not one to candy coat a reply..... ;\

cupcake
cupcake

to be rude to anyone - one of my many faults. Generally speaking, he's usually a pretty level headed guy. Although we don't work on the same team, I do have to see him everyday, so I didn't want to respond too much. Often, responding is what they want. I just stared at him blankly and let him carry on. Thankfully I was interrupted by work! Thanks jd!

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I work witha few older guys with really old school ecomonics and world views, I find its best to just grin a bear it and just them them natter on about it themselves.

---TK---
---TK---

HAHA I am a contractor surrounded by hawks that thrive for an argument. I'll pass on that, and save my job...