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Politics and Business Do Not Mix.




Can you have a business relationship and still be political?


It is hard. Whether you own a business or work for a company, talking about anything that has a political overtone can cause problems. Everyone has an opinion and the discussion can soon become argumentative.


Work is not the place to bring your personal feelings or opinions.


In todays political environment, with the near equal split between constituents, you are going to have complete agreement with half of your co-workers and probably offend the other half. Your job is not to try and convince them of your side of the argument. Your job is to help make the Company profitable.


The job of every employee is to help move the Company into positions of better profitability and thereby secure your employment for the future. Whether you are the owner or are an employee, your opinions are your own.


If you are the owner, this is even more important. You need to remain a political enigma. Then, you can be the calming influence if discussions come up that have political consequence.


All of us have had an experience working around people, or for people that have tried to persuade others to agree with their ideas or opinions. If you agree with them, you may feel the urge to engage the conversation and share your opinions. If you do not agree, you feel uncomfortable and want to argue the alternatives.


Work is not the place for debates. Someone is going to lose the argument and, in most cases, you lose the confidence and friendship of someone you had no problem with before.


If you are working with people that cannot keep it to themselves, the difficulty is how to maneuver and navigate those conversations. The safe way is to agree and let it go. Why? Because you are not there to debate or convince them.


It will not happen.


Most people have had years of developing their thinking from many, many sources. They believe, as you probably do, that their opinions and their sources are correct. Can someone easily convince you to change your mind? Probably not.


I have worked in positions where some of the people were anti-Semitic, bigoted and or racist. If these are not overt opinions, then the decision is yours on whether to bring it to the attention of someone in authority. For large Companies, it is easier because of the very stringent government guidelines on biases. If you see it, report it to your HR Department.


For smaller Companies, it is more difficult. The owner or person of authority should not be allowing it to happen. How do you confront the situation? If you are not careful, that is how it can result. A confrontation. When dealing with racial or other biases, the situations are going to depend on may circumstances. In many cases it falls to your position, your level of income, your time with the Company and the risk you are willing to take to see a result.


I will tell you, from my experience with the broad area of employment law and Federal and State Regulations protecting both the employee and the Company, the number of statutes is mind numbing. When grievances exist and presented and someone is looking for redress, someone is going to lose. Feelings are going to be raw for someone.


You can see political discussions become the easy problem to handle. The simple answer is, stay away from them. Shrug, nod indifference and walk away. Tomorrow you will have someone to talk to about the movie you watched last night.


Dennis Farrell




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