Talking about politics in professional life?

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by Zombie Acorn, Feb 3, 2010.

  1. Zombie Acorn macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #1
    Do you talk about politics in your professional life? With customers/clients? Etc?

    I had a really weird experience yesterday, I went out on a call to a client's house and she started talking about Obama not showing a birth certificate and how he shouldn't even be president (this came out of no where after I had been there for 20 minutes or so). I was staying silent, but I could tell she was starting to get offended because I wasn't agreeing with her which made the situation pretty awkward. What would have been your mode of action? Agree with her just to keep her happy?

    I hadn't really ran into this situation before today. Im sure some of the board members have handled situations like this better than I did.
     
  2. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem

    GoCubsGo

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    #2
    Given the way you respond to people here I would think you would have stated your position, offensive or not.

    Me, I will not discuss politics with people I work with/for. I rarely discuss them at all with the exception of one close friend.
     
  3. dmr727 macrumors G3

    dmr727

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    #3
    Talking politics with clients is a good way to get myself fired. Sometimes they'll engage me, but I usually just nod my head and find some reason to talk about something else. I'm not particularly knowledgeable about politics anyway.

    With my coworkers, I simply try not to. Most people in my industry are pretty hard core conservative anyway.
     
  4. Rt&Dzine macrumors 6502a

    Rt&Dzine

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    Oct 8, 2008
  5. Gregg2 macrumors 603

    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    #5
    Same here. I don't think such discussions are appropriate "water cooler talk". During lunch, outside the work space is a little bit more reasonable.

    So do I. You could also play dumb. "Is that right?" "You don't say!" etc.
     
  6. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6

    ucfgrad93

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2007
    Location:
    Colorado
    #6
    Agreed. Talking about politics, religion, or anything else controversial with clients is not a good idea. I would definitely try and avoid it all costs.
     
  7. Zombie Acorn thread starter macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

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    Feb 2, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #7
    You obviously haven't lived in conservative whackoville. There are no two sides in this town, I most likely would lose a lot of business if word got out that I stood up for Obama. :eek:
     
  8. barkomatic macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2008
    Location:
    Manhattan
    #8
    I never discuss politics at work. On the very rare occasion when someone brings it up--if I agree with the opinion I say so. If not, I change the subject. If I'm pressed, then I'll say something like "Well, I guess you could look at it that way, but not everyone does". I can't imagine my workplace relationships turning into a version of the political lounge on Macrumors.
     
  9. Disc Golfer macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
    #9
    This happens to me at the bus stop all the time. Occasionally on the train as well. I can't imagine what would inspire someone to approach a stranger at a bus stop and start making opinionated comments about something that has nothing to do with either public transit or waiting for public transit. Noncommittal grunts generally appease these types of people, who mostly just want their outlandish point of view justified by another person, even if indirectly. Sometimes your grunting will be misconstrued (once someone on the train, after a lengthy exchange of babbling and grunting, came to the unaided conclusion that I was a bush supporter), but as long as the grunting doesn't mean anything in the first place it doesn't matter if it's misunderstood.

    Why anyone would want to engage in a political conversation with anyone else at all is beyond me, people are bat poop ca-razy. :confused:
     
  10. dmr727 macrumors G3

    dmr727

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    #10
    My clients tend to sit on the extremes either left or right, so I get to internally roll my eyes no matter who's talking to me. The preachy pro-environment clients are the funniest. If you're having a conversation with me while I'm at work, you're most likely engaging in one of least environmentally friendly actions possible. ;)
     
  11. abijnk macrumors 68040

    abijnk

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2007
    Location:
    Los Angeles, CA
    #11
    I have to walk a very careful line at work of being aware of the political atmosphere without actually having a (known) opinion. We do contract based work, and our biggest customer (by far) is the government, so obviously politics has a large affect on whether or not we have work. There are people who work for the company who have to go before congress and other stuff that involves elected officials, so walking the line between being aware and cautious without seeming partisan either way is essential.
     
  12. rdowns macrumors Penryn

    rdowns

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2003
    #12
    If she was a really good customer, I would have agreed and said, I think he was born in Kenya and he's a Socialist.
     
  13. Arran macrumors 68040

    Arran

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    Mar 7, 2008
    Location:
    Atlanta, USA
    #13
    It happened to me as a client once (in a barber shop). Politics and off-color jokes. Awkward situation. (especially when the other guy's holding a pair of scissors).

    Anyway, I responded with "uh huh's" and "indeeds" until he got the point.

    Didn't go back. Pity - it was a good haircut.
     
  14. IntheNet macrumors regular

    IntheNet

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2009
    #14
    Our business use to be very non-political and discussions around the coffee machine/water cooler - as you say - strained due to conflicting political support among staff. Most in our office have varied political views...liberal, independent, conservative... yet this is changing fast. Over the last summer there was great support for the Town Meetings being held across nation and their seems to be general frustration over the federal government's debt load. Moreover among my co-workers and staff there is almost universal opposition to the government's health care plans even though I know there are many long-term Democrat party advocates.
     
  15. Zombie Acorn thread starter macrumors 65816

    Zombie Acorn

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #15
    Im kind of interested in the thought process of bringing up politics in the middle of no where in a business situation. I could see at a bar or social gathering, but its just asking for awkwardness when you make a random statement to someone whom you have no idea their political affiliation. I don't know if its a try for justifying their views/testing the waters or what.
     
  16. dmr727 macrumors G3

    dmr727

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    Dec 29, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    #16
    In my case, it usually starts when someone seated close to me is reading the newspaper, and reads some article that pisses him/her off (usually a him - women don't seem nearly as outgoing about politics). But yeah, I really don't understand why people do it.
     
  17. Macky-Mac macrumors 68030

    Macky-Mac

    Joined:
    May 18, 2004
    #17
    uh huh....indeed.....that's something to be considered.....I've heard other people say that :D

    you handled it correctly.....when you're at work you're being paid to do a job, not to spend your time discussing politics, religion or some pop star's scandalous behavior..... especially with clients who might not like your opinions!
     
  18. Thomas Veil macrumors 68020

    Thomas Veil

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2004
    Location:
    OBJECTIVE reality
    #18
    ZA, I think you handled it properly.

    We have several regular customers who talk politics in our office, and we stay as neutral as possible. The more people insist on pressing the point, the more we change the subject and try to stick to business.

    A few weeks back I had to sit in a jury pool listening to two gabby middle-aged women who were going on and on about Obama, talking about nothing factual, just the kind of crazy &$#% that you sometimes read in PRSI. Thank God we were released later that day, though I hate to think about that kind of person sitting in judgment of someone else....

    BTW, I had Arran's exact same experience in a men's barber shop...with the same result. I didn't go back.
     
  19. Queso macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2006
    #19
    LOL. I wouldn't have been able to resist asking if she'd read any David Icke and seeing whether I could freak her out by talking about lizard men :D

    To answer the main question, sometimes I do yes. I used to be quite famous for my anti-Blair rants when I worked at a rather large media company, but I've calmed down a bit these days :)
     
  20. Iscariot macrumors 68030

    Iscariot

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    Aug 16, 2007
    Location:
    Toronteazy
    #20
    Even though I work directly with people all day, it never really comes up. I guess that's a part of living in a country where insane conspiracy theories aren't propped up as legitimate issues by a corrupt "news" media. If someone were to press a point, however, I would probably just give them a very difficult exercise that precludes talking :p
     
  21. eawmp1 macrumors 601

    eawmp1

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    FL
    #21
    Perhaps she was feeling you out for your views. Perhaps she is a right-wing nutjob who feels she must evangelize.

    Either way, you did the right thing. However, if she started to get "offended because I wasn't agreeing with her which made the situation pretty awkward", you could have interrupted earlier and told her you prefer not mixing business with politics, and gotten on with your business with her.
     
  22. Dagless macrumors Core

    Dagless

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    Jan 18, 2005
    Location:
    Fighting to stay in the EU
    #22
    I try to keep it out of my private life too, my family and my girlfriends family have very different political views. There's a lot of tongue biting going on.
     
  23. RedTomato macrumors 68040

    RedTomato

    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2005
    Location:
    .. London ..
    #23
    I have strong political views, and outside the office, I usually make them known, but in the office, I generally keep them quiet. Especially if I'm with a client. I'm there to provide a service, not argue with them. Likewise in the office, we're there to work together not argue. My office is a theatre / charity office so we're creating something worthwhile.

    I suppose if I worked in Mcdonalds or on the shop floor, I'd be more open about arguing with other workers about politics - it'd liven up a boring day :)

    One person who I often see in meetings made a big impact on me recently. He is at the opposite end of the political spectrum to me, and even stood for election to represent a party that I really dislike. Usually I wouldn't like to even speak to people like him.

    However, he has over the last few years made huge efforts on behalf of a cause that is very near to my heart, and given them for free huge amounts of his highly valued professional time and skills and expertise. To be honest, without him, they'd probably be closed down. That's how important he's been to them. That's really impressed me. I respect and happily work with him now.

    So I've learned - don't judge a person by their politics. Look at their actions.
     
  24. JNB macrumors 604

    JNB

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2004
    Location:
    In a Hell predominately of my own making
    #24
    If one ever wonders whether discussing politics (or any other socially sensitive topic area) in a professional setting is a good idea, all they have to do is visit PRSI. :rolleyes:
     
  25. mscriv macrumors 601

    mscriv

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2008
    Location:
    Dallas, Texas
    #25
    Very true statement. The problem is it's not practiced by many which is why it's best to keep your mouth shut about such things at work and anywhere else where things could turn ugly.
     

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