Complete Story


Avoid Talking Politics In The Workplace

Folks don’t need help finding reasons to disagree

While in graduate school, I worked in an upscale men’s store. The store had two master tailors from Eastern Europe, both in their mid-70s, Aaron and Isaac; they had been there for many years. The tailor shop was very small, maybe 12 feet by 20 feet, cluttered with sewing machines, ironing boards, plenty of garments and a steam press. One day, Aaron and Isaac stopped talking to each other. For months, they coexisted in that small space, never saying a word to each other and for months, all of us who worked there tried to broker a ‘peace.’

Years later, as president of a manufacturing company, I was looking for a way to improve the work experience for employees. The plant was arranged by work center, and our employees usually ate at their work benches. My idea: convert an underutilized space into a break/lunch area. It worked like a charm! Folks got to interact outside of their work area—including Bennie and Alex, a German immigrant. Turns out, both fought in WWII. As they got to know each other, they discovered that Bennie’s outfit had captured Alex’s in the war, and they stopped speaking. No one could broker a peace.

Sound familiar? In all of our social experiences, we inevitably will find two or more individuals who discover they can’t agree on something and, then, instead of changing subjects or mixing back into the crowd, they persist in trying to convince the other that their views are without merit. My point: Folks don’t need our help to find reasons to disagree.

Please select this link to read the complete article from Chief Executive.


Printer-Friendly Version