PUBLIC OPINION > Don't Talk Politics at Work

Living 2012/09/11 20:00:00
With the presidential election just a couple months away, political conversations are almost unavoidable. But is it ever inappropriate to engage in political discourse? What about the workplace? Is that simply an exercise in free speech and open communication, or a recipe for disaster? We asked the public if it's OK to talk politics at work.

Open political discussion is essential in a democratic country, but about two-thirds of people think that bringing it into the workplace is a bad idea. Most people agree that there's a fine line between a discussion and an argument, but with a topic as volatile as politics, a calm discussion could very quickly turn sour. Some spoke from experience. It could turn out fine, but it's usually not worth the risk.

Mind the Moderates

Conservatives and liberals voted similarly on this issue -- 40% and 37% were OK with workplace discussions, respectively -- but voters who fell in the middle were less than enthused. Only 22% of moderates think it's OK to discuss politics at work. It would follow that people who call themselves moderates are less confrontational.

Men Might Go for It

Men were a bit more likely to condone politics in the workplace. Since men are typically a little more competitive, it would make sense that they're more eager or willing to get into it over healthcare and the economy, but ultimately it was only an 11% difference -- about a third of men, compared to about a quarter of women.

Age Is Not an Issue

There weren't actually that many other demographics that seemed to correlate with response. In fact, the age group most willing to talk politics at work (45-54) was only a few years older than the age group least willing to talk politics at work (35-44). Teens were more willing than most, though not by much.

If you'd like to vote on this question, dig deeper into the demographics, or engage in existing discussion about the topic, visit our poll about politics in the workplace. We'd love to hear from you!
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  • Grobinson richie 2012/09/16 18:32:28
    You're kidding, right? Are you blind to what's going on around you?

    America has just been down graded again. The middle east in on fire and Obama is out fund raising
  • Sintwa 2012/09/11 22:29:14
    It SHOULD be okay, but unfortunatly not everyone is that tolerant. If your boss finds out and disagrees strongly enough it could land you in trouble...
  • Ladd 2012/09/11 22:24:21
    Free speech is the American way ! It does have it's place with customers around the work place ! But everywhere else do it in Romney & Ryan's behalf if you can using every icebreaker you can ! NOBAMA for starters ! With all the electioneering I personally do, I have had some good results with my fellow black Americans ! Really ! Our black's in America can see what's going on with the half white socialists Obama. Their are and large amount of blacks that are hopelessly locked into the entidalment mentallity & will vote for the democraps right from the getgo, always ! But at least they don't like seeing President Barack Hussein Obama bowing to Saudi kings ! Niether do I ! - NOBAMA 2012 -
  • richie Ladd 2012/09/12 00:30:28
    Were you just being funny or facts don't matter to you too, judging from your post?
  • truther1 richie 2012/09/12 02:36:54
    When, and if, facts get in your way, just proclaim Racism! It seems that that political strategy has served the Democrat party for quite a few decades now...
  • TheR 2012/09/11 22:21:15
    Hey. I want to know who I am working for, and who they support. If they are not sharing similar views, why should I work for them? You make this question, appear that the only reason we work is to get money from the Boss or Elite. Frankly I don't want to be bought, and sold, doing your lousy job, unless I know who I am working for.
  • meme14 2012/09/11 22:11:53
    Asbsolutely NOT okay - my old boss - who is a big redneck..used to be billigerent about politics..some people are tolerant of other people's opinions and others are arrogant asses about it ...so, I think it's just best to keep politics out of the work place.
  • Kingbryan 2012/09/11 22:02:39
    I own a small retail business, I respect all my employees political views. However saying this my employees opinions are just that, their opinion and should never be the focus of the effort to complete their tasks. Number one they can challenge each other, but never the customer.
  • SOUL4REAL 2012/09/11 22:02:08
    When you are at work, that's what you should be focus on, and not politics! Because it can get "Hot"!!
  • HockeyNut 2012/09/11 22:01:21
    If you want to stayed employed, don't talk politics. That's all I have to say. Have a nice day.
  • Dan 2012/09/11 22:00:13
    We now spend most of our waking hours at work and almost all of our hours with other adults is at work. So if politics is not discussed there,where do these vital exchanges of ideas take place?
  • Jackie ... Dan 2012/09/11 23:13:26
    Jackie G - Poker Playing Patriot
    In my humble opinion -- Lunch, after work - work environment is tough enough without discussing politics there - just not the place for politics or religion - it is about the career when there.
  • David 2012/09/11 21:52:11
    Steering clear of work politics is tricky enough, without worrying about general politics!
  • Jackie ... David 2012/09/11 23:13:35
    Jackie G - Poker Playing Patriot
    Nailed it
  • L Dub 2012/09/11 21:33:36
    L Dub
    We should be able to discuss what ever we want to at work; keeping it decent. I can do without all the expletives some co-workers color their conversation with.
  • Jackie ... L Dub 2012/09/11 23:15:58
    Jackie G - Poker Playing Patriot
    Nope, not the way it works - and I agree expletives should end. In my opinion; work environment is about work - I think lunch and after hours is a great time to discuss everything else
  • clh1 2012/09/11 21:30:14
    If it's your break...then it's your business !!!
  • twhitin... clh1 2012/09/11 21:41:12
    Not on company property it's not
  • evangel... clh1 2012/09/11 21:49:45
    As a Former Retail Manager, I agree with you but some managers say it's still their time even on your break if you eat on Store Property.

    But I agree with you, people should be able to but if it causes anger or upsets others, then the conversation needs to change or discuss it after work off the Property.
    Some will say Free Speech, but I know other managers who find a way to get around people that disagree with them or their view and that is a common thing in Retail
  • clh1 evangel... 2012/09/17 12:21:11
    Thats a shame!! People should be able to think what they want ...on thier break
  • evangel... clh1 2012/09/18 20:50:15
    I agree it's almost becoming an Obama State Next the Companies will have their own Drones watching employees off the Job at Home like obama
  • bbkang 2012/09/11 21:21:03
    Why is the media telling us NOT to talk about politics...now?...Who benefits from our silence?
  • HenryDeLaPaz 2012/09/11 21:19:53
    What if customers bring up a politics conversation? Have you all thought about that? I mean- with me it happens all the time
  • Independent Thinker 2012/09/11 21:19:49
    Independent Thinker
    If you are respected so is your opinion.

    If you are informed and have insight without getting upset people ask.

    I talk life. Politics (and other areas of life) just naturally come up.

    I like living here in the U.S. I love the fact this is a free country, that I can express myself and share details of why I believe the way I do.

    I do not care what people believe. It is up to them.

    I do not look for an argument (like so many do on SH). When a person shows irration and a mean-spirited attitude who wants that opinion?

    I stay away from those types of people. Typically they are followers and not leaders, very sheep-like.
  • charles nelson 2012/09/11 21:13:31
    charles nelson
    To keep peace and get your work done, at least till the elections are over, politics are a no, no. And for sure, don't let you boss know your politics are if you want to keep your job.
  • Margaret Jacobson 2012/09/11 21:07:20
    Margaret Jacobson
  • Margare... Margare... 2012/09/11 21:08:26
    Margaret Jacobson
  • freedomsox 2012/09/11 21:07:11
    I think it's fine as long as you get along. Basically talk politics with your work buddies.
  • marine 2012/09/11 20:55:26
    who cares its not an argument as long as they agree with you, ha ha, good to know how someone votes as it says how they think which can be helpful working out a deal that they are involved. example most democrats take higher interest on mortgage just to have one, republican will push lower interest n not worry about the easy finance with back loaded points
  • Bob 2012/09/11 20:53:18
    Politics is news. Who is going to decide what news is politics or not? Any time you start telling a group of people what they can or can't talk about you are headed for trouble.
  • TimothyBrianFoley 2012/09/11 20:52:41
    Guess we have to shut up and do our jobs
  • hec1359 2012/09/11 20:44:06
    If you haven't got the skin to handle any conversation, maybe you shouldn't be there
  • twhiting9275 2012/09/11 20:41:00
    Politics and Religion are the two taboo subjects ANYWHERE.
  • qbnimport twhitin... 2012/09/11 21:40:48
    I bring up religious themes because people often ask me about my weekend, and I go to church or bible study. I'm not afraid or ashamed of my relationship with God, and people seem 2 respect that. Some even ask if they can attend with me or if I can pray 4 them. Re politics, I'm a social worker, so my work is wrapped up in social and fiscal policy. In fact, when Obamacare passed and was upheld by the Court, my hospital passed out cookies 4 all of us 2 celebrate. Hospitals are very open about the fact that universal care benefits them.
  • SoD twhitin... 2012/09/11 22:34:21
    The entire population being indoctrinated with that platitude is one of the primary reasons your average citizen has about as much understanding of politics and our system of government as he does rocket science.
  • Grobinson twhitin... 2012/09/11 22:38:17
    Nah, I love to talk politics. with people, especially now when people are more open for discussion.
  • twhitin... Grobinson 2012/09/12 17:32:22
    sure, as long as you agree with them.
    Sadly, most people aren't like you. Agree, or die, that's the philosophy any more, especially among liberals
  • Osaka twhitin... 2012/09/11 23:54:30
    Actually politics are more of a taboo these days.
  • twhitin... Osaka 2012/09/12 17:32:52
    Religion has always been one of those, especially now where it's "ok" to slam religion
  • Anne twhitin... 2012/09/13 04:29:37

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