Dear Sharon – February 2019
Q. I have a co-worker that overall, I work well with, except for one issue. This gentleman in our office is a “Trump Basher” and makes no bones about sharing his opinion freely whenever there is an opportunity. Honestly, I’m not a fan of President Trump’s personally but I don’t exactly share all his views. I was raised with the understanding that one should not discuss politics or religion in the workplace. What is your thought on this? It’s to the point that I feel like I should look for a new job.
A. This is a tricky one and certainly something that is a common topic of conversation within the HR community. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, it is more about the appropriate audience and environment for that opinion. One of the values we have at our office is that you go to the source first if you have an issue. Then if it isn’t resolved, you can take it to the leadership team.
My guess is he isn’t all that aware that his commentary on President Trump bothers others since no one is speaking up. I’d privately ask if he would be willing to keep politics and religion out of the workplace, without drawing a line in the sand on your opinion versus his, which would probably spar more debate. Then if he refuses, it’s time for the next step.
If necessary, discuss with leadership that you are uncomfortable with politics and religion being discussed in the workplace. By sharing that you believe both are a very personal preference and sharing one’s opinion so openly can offend others, they should understand the issue without even naming the specific offender.
It is important the understand that certain topics are best left to be debated with family at the kitchen table.