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Political discourse may stress at the working place

Organisations must emphasize common ground or make space





In two cases political discussions in the working place lead to stress, lower productivity and less job satisfaction: a) if one finds him-/herself dissimilar with his/her co-workers and b) if one contentwise does not agree. And this is regardless of whether you are actively involved in this type of political discourse or whether you only overhear it inadvertently. Conversely: there are hints supporting the benign consequences of both participating and overhearing talks about politics in the office as they may boost stronger feelings of solidarity. These are outcomes of recent US-American studies.

So the researchers recommend organizations and their management to emphasize explicitly the common ground among the staff and therefore to remember the more positive ties they have together – particularly in times when political discussions are more likely i.e. in election times or on special political occasions.

Rosen/Koopman/Gabriel/Lee/Ezerins/Roth, “Hidden Consequences of Political Discourse at Work: How and Why Ambient Political Conversations ImpactvEmployee Outcomes”, in: “Journal of Applied Psychology”, 2024, Vol. 109, Nr. 6, 795-810.

From the practise:

Political discussions may divide partners, families and friends. Topics as the pandemic, the Israel-Palestine-question or the European election, just to name a few, have demonstrated that to a great extent. That´s why since ever political issues have been and often still are an absolute no go for small talk: too big the risk, to alienate potential clients or existing contacts and to jeopardize promising deals and negotiations.

In my opinion it is indeed possible to talk about politics even if you don´t agree with others – you simply have to have time and space to do this in a differentiated mode and with mutual respect. Only then you have the chance to avoid emotional arousement and to get into fight with each other. Time and space at the working place is not available, though – at least not for political discussions. So, my dear organizations, foster the culture of political discourse by providing these requirements or shift them to the spare time of people.

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