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De-escalating Political Tension In the Workplace

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

Politics can be one of the most divisive subjects, and one that leads to explosive confrontations. In order to make it a more comfortable, productive place, conflicts need to be de-escalated quickly and effectively.

Navigating partisan opinions in the workplace has never been more challenging as our political allegiance becomes increasingly tied to our moral convictions and core values. This moves us beyond dress codes or policies that minimize the use of slogans or images to thinking about how we cultivate true collaboration, respect, and communication in our teams.

Integrative Inquiry was founded to help address the fundamentals of organizational culture and much of our work focuses on developing our facilitation and communication skills in times of conflict.

These divisions are unlikely to disappear anytime soon. It’s imperative that we create policies to foster psychological safety and that we equip our managers and leadership to navigate these challenges more smoothly.

Curious to learn more about psychological safety? Read this article.


5 Strategies to Help Navigate Political Divides in the Workplace:

  1. Though not nationally recognized, you may consider allowing your team specific days off during political events. Election Day and Inauguration Day both generate a great deal of emotion and anxiety. If you don’t have essential functions for your team, you might want to prioritize mental health with a break during these times.

  2. Hold a discussion around what constitutes freedom of speech and opinion, and what might result in the harassment or ostracization of team members. Help your team come together to create policies about how and when political viewpoints are brought up in the workplace.

  3. Educate your team about conflict and how our moral convictions can override our ability to compromise and collaborate. Sometimes, when we understand why we are so emotionally charged, it can help us approach our interactions with others differently. This article helps to explain how to transform moral convictions.

  4. Managers should be particularly careful to avoid revealing political opinions because of the power dynamics at play within an organization and how it may be perceived by other team members.

  5. Invite someone to work with your team around psychological safety and what it means to create work environments where people can bring up and engage tough topics with respect and transparency. Depending on the community or employee groups you're working with, this could even be a cultural broker.


A Final Thought

This process isn't clear-cut and doesn't happen overnight. If your team is deeply divided and this has already shown up in the workplace, it may help to be transparent and express your concern over the situation as well as what you hope will come out of this work.

We offer assessments that can be used to pinpoint where there are divisions or inequities in your organization and trainings that can educate employees on how to make their work cultures more inclusive and optimal. Learn more about our services by reading our brochure.

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