When Politics Affect Work And Family Relationships

Posted by on Aug 10, 2012 in Work Relationships | 5 comments

Chances are you’re friendly with a co-worker or family member with opposing political views. During an election year people are particularly prone to share their political views- especially on Facebook. If you’re friends with co-workers and family on Facebook, you’ve likely figured out their opinions on any number of political issues by now.

Many people share snappy one-liners and scathing retorts on their Facebook page that they wouldn’t say in a face-to-face conversation. Boasting political beliefs on Facebook can lead to stereotyping, heated arguments, and hate speech. Most people are more circumspect in face-to-face conversations, but political opinions still come up in conversation.

So what happens when you have to interact in person with someone who’s political views are very different than your own? What if you find that person’s opinions offensive or reprehensible? How do you look past the rhetoric to build a respectful and productive work or family relationship?

Here are some ideas to promote positive relationships with people who have opposing political opinions.

Don’t take the bait

Political issues are complex but all too often complicated issues are stripped down to catchy sound-bites intended to get a reaction- and get a reaction it does. Recognize that most political views shared on Facebook are intended to get a rise out of you.

When you are thoughtful in your response you control your emotional well-being. Remember, you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.

Don’t take it personally

Many political policies affect your day-to-day life but when someone shares a political opinion they are not intentionally trying to harm you. Hot button political issues are bigger than any individual.

Own your beliefs and opinions and let other people own theirs. While personal activism is important, you don’t have to challenge the beliefs of your co-workers and family. Stop taking it personally!

See the whole person

When someone shares an opposing viewpoint your opinion of that person may change drastically, but focusing on someone’s politics can make work and family relationships difficult.

Adjust your perspective to see the whole person. Their opinions are just part of who they are- no one is defined by their political views alone. No matter what their politics they are likely a good person with many awesome qualities! So are you! I challenge you to see the awesome in each other.

Focus on shared goals

Most of the time an individual’s politics are unrelated to your relationship with them. Stop putting politics before your relationships by focusing on shared goals. Find a common goal and work together to accomplish the task.

Agree to disagree

Everyone has their own opinion influenced by personal experiences, family, friends, education, culture, social status and more. Accept that someone else has been influenced by different factors than the ones that influenced you. No one is right or wrong in politics- people have different perspectives on complex issues. Foster respectful and productive relationships by simply agreeing to disagree.

get alongImage courtesy of Abhi Ryan

I love your comments! Have you ever let politics affect your relationships? What other ways do you look past politics to create positive relationships?

5 Comments

  1. I’m about to go on an annual vacation with my family and I dread it every year – especially this year. I am outnumbered 6 to 1; we are on opposite ends of the political spectrum. It’s difficult not to take things personally. I will print out your tips and keep the sheet in my room so I can read it every day. Thank you!

  2. Recently, well I must admit I never expect something like this will ever occur to me, I suspect my dad has been a bit brainwash by some politic propaganda (Don’t get me wrong, I love my father), and it is making an impact on how he talk to my mom. I am shock when my mom told me about this, and heard her crying over the phone. Now I am worry sick and don’t know what to do, since my dad is stubborn person that nothing can really change his point of view… I really love my family, and I would HATE to see this stupid politic thingy torn them apart, however I have no idea what to do…

    I mean… really a FKING propaganda??? they had a great relationship for nearly 20 years and a propaganda just come out from nowhere is going to destroy everything. (excuse my language, no offence, but now I am feeling angry, scare and frustrated)

    what should I do…???

    • Thanks for your comment, Anders.

      It’s always difficult to see politics tearing families apart. Sometimes people identify so intensely with their political beliefs they don’t see how they may be harming their relationships.

      Honestly, I’m not sure there’s much you can do to repair their relationship- they have to do that themselves. There may be an underlying issue that’s affecting the way they discuss this political topic and they’re using politics to express a deeper conflict.

      I do believe you could share your concern with them. Tell them you feel angry, scared, and frustrated. Tell them how much you love them. They may not realize the effect their disagreement is having on you, or even on each other.

      Through all this, I encourage you to find ways to be kind to both your parents, and take care of yourself. Allowing their conflict to tear you up inside isn’t going to benefit anyone.

      Chrysta

  3. Thanks for using my suggestions, Chrysta! I really enjoyed your advice! I think facebook has a way of keeping no secrets! And that can be tricky! I have really learned that with my current job!

    • Thanks for your awesome comment, Dawn, and for the awesome topic!

      Sitting down to write about this topic brought a little focus, patience, and peace to my mind during this challenging time- election year! And I’m not even going to mention a certain restaurant controversy!

      Have a grateful day!

      Chrysta

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