Gregg Ward, management consultant and author of the book The Respectful Leader, shares his views on how to handle political conversations in the workplace.
(upbeat music) - If the conversation starts about politics, and, let's face it, everyone's talking about it right now. Generally I advise you to try to avoid the conversation. But you can't just say, "Hey, how about those Yankees?" You just can't do that. It's too abrupt, it's too out of the blue. So one of the things you can do is basically play dumb. You could say, "I'm not sure, what do you mean?" And generally speaking, when people pop off with their opinions, they are very passionate about it the first time, but if you play dumb and say, "I'm not sure what you're talking about." They'll put their professors cap on, and they'll try to explain to you so that you understand.
And generally, they'll lower the amount of passion and venom in their voice. So that gives you a little bit of breathing room. You got to buy yourself a little bit of time to think. And then you need to make, what I call, a really general statement. Something that we can all agree on. So usually, I coach people to say, "Well, I think we can all agree "that this is a really contentious election." Or, "I think we can all agree, "this is a really loaded topic." Something like that. And so what happens psychologically is you get them to kind of calm down, a little bit.
You can also say, "You know, I guess we just at this point "got to leave it up to the voters. "We can't necessarily do anything about that "here right now." And again, that's something they kind of can agree with. And that's really important. You've got to deescalate the tension. It's not about agreeing or disagreeing. You can't get into a battle with somebody on politics, cause who's going to win that battle? Nobody. It's just going to get worse. And so you deflect them, you go take them into another place, get them off that topic.
And everything's cool. (upbeat music)