Jul 29, 2015


Latina Cubicle Confidential™- Can You Talk Politics At Work?

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If your office gets into a morning round of discussions on the latest convention coverage or presidential debate, do you participate?

During an election year, there are a wide range of topics that can become polarizing faster than you imagine.  This year the big issues of the day are the treatment of undocumented immigrants, job growth, the national debt, health care, and defense spending. As more Latinos begin to exercise their right to vote, the discussions are enticing and hard to ignore.  Latinos have plenty riding on the current election. The need for jobs, immigration reform and health care are just three issues that impact us greatly.

But do you talk to your boss about the position of your favorite candidate? Do you tell him or her your candidate is better than the other? If your boss is someone who can truly accept differences of opinion or happens to be a person with similar political ideals, you may be safe to share these perspectives.

If you and your boss are at opposite ends of the political spectrum, your work life may get very complex if you start talking politics.   The best way to address these issues in the workplace—especially if your ideas are different from your boss is to set up your conversation by saying,  “before I share my views, let’s be clear that we may need to agree to disagree”.  This gives you the option to listen to your boss’ response to your views and instead of saying more, you can calmly reply,  “Like I just said, we should agree to disagree”.   At that point you can politely change the subject or walk away from further discussions.

Sometimes we are singled out as Latinas and asked specifically how we see issues simply because our community is directly impacted by immigration, bi-lingual education, health care reform.  No one needs to know how you plan to vote in November and some workplaces even have guidelines about keeping politics off site.  For example, wearing your candidate’s campaign t-shirt to work or placing a political poster on your cubicle wall may be against your organization’s policies.  If you feel your boss begins to retaliate—whether you agree to talk politics or not—speak to your Human Resource Manager for assistance.

When your workplace feels like a safe place to engage in political debate, learn to first highlight the facts on issues.  Not only will this make you more effective in your discussions and a better voter; it also will impress your boss that you know how to research the underlying factors that shape your political views.  Keep your tone professional and regardless of how different his or her views may be, don’t let yourself get drawn into a personal attack or engage in a shouting match.  Despite what you see on televised political debates, a healthy discussion of issues can be held without the need to lash out with your emotions.  Another important part of your discussion is to realize that your boss’ ideas are just that: personal views. You may benefit from knowing more about where they stand but at the end of the day, you have a job to do.  Your performance on the job cannot change because you discover your boss doesn’t want to vote for your candidate or support your cause.  Make sure you vote and let your boss do the same—that’s the best way to stand up for what you believe.

Tell me if you feel safe talking about politics at work at Latina Cubicle Confidential™ or join me live at the next LatinaVIDA™.

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Dr. Maria G. Hernandez has 20 years experience consulting in both the United States and Mexico to senior executives in Fortune 50 companies and facilitated change initiatives for elected officials and their staff. She has worked in academia, business, nonprofits, technology startups, and public agencies. Visit the Latina Cubicle Confidential™ Facebook (link below) or join Dr. Hernandez live at the next LatinaVIDA™-Visibility, Identity, Direction, Action.

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  1. As the boss, I held fundraisers for Obama in 2008. My Republican customers asked if their purchases could support the opponent. I said, “No”. They kept buying burritos. Agreed to disagree amiably. Nice.

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