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Keep political tension at bay

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in Centerpiece,Workplace Communication,Workplace Conflict

politicsWith a nasty presidential campaign that’s been full of mudslinging nearing its end, conversations still have the potential to heat up. Make sure you keep it professional on Election Day—and any other time of year—with these tips:

Pay attention to people when they talk. Too many people tune out, especially when the other person is disagreeing with them. Stay focused with the intent of understanding the person’s viewpoint. Showing respect keeps the other person from becoming defensive.

Don’t insult the person. Never call people or their beliefs wrong, stupid or any other insult. Instead, say something like “I appreciate your stance on that, but I respectfully disagree.” Or “I understand where you are coming from, but that is not how I feel about the matter.”

Resist arguing. People will definitely try to pull you into an argument, or battle with you until you agree with them. Don’t bite. You will never change the other person’s opinion, especially when it comes to politics. Even if you have all the facts on your side and the other person is completely out of line, bow out of arguments gracefully. Say “I think we’ve met an impasse here, so I am going to get back to work.” Remember: You aren’t admitting you are wrong; you are simply showing that you refuse to engage in the argument.

Stay calm—always. Political discussions can bring out the worst in people. If you lose your cool, you may never live it down. Therefore, if you can’t share your opinions or listen to others’ opinions without raising your voice and lashing out at people, keep your mouth closed. If you do find yourself coming unraveled, immediately apologize and remove yourself from the conversation. For example, “I’m sorry I am becoming angry. I am going to stop on that note and get back to work.”

— Adapted from “8 Tips for Keeping Workplace Conversation Professional,” Michelle Powell, Alabama.com, www.al.com.

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