how can I ask my coworkers to stop talking about politics, interview shoes when it’s snowy, and more

It’s five answers to five questions. Here we go…

1. How can I ask my manager and coworkers to stop talking about politics at work?

Do you have advice on how to suggest a rule of no talking about politics at work? My managers and coworkers have taken to discussing politics while we are in meetings, usually towards the end or while we’re waiting for other parties to enter a conference call. Some of them are HUGE fans of a certain politician who I find repellent. If makes me uncomfortable to hear them praise this person, but I’m not able to walk out of a meeting to avoid it. How can I address this without seeming adversarial? I can’t grimace and bear it for the next 11 months.

“Any chance we can ban political talk until the election is over?”

Or, “We have people with lots of different political viewpoints here — in the interest of keeping things pleasant, can we avoid politics while we’re in meetings?”

You’re not likely to get an actual policy out of it (nor would I advocate one), but you can probably address it successfully this way on a case-by-case basis. People who insist on continuing on when you’ve directly asked them to stop — when you’re in a work meeting, as opposed to just overhearing their casual conversation — are rude. (But you probably can’t do anything about their casual conversations outside of meetings, although you can certainly decline to participate in those discussions.)

2. Can I ask that a second job be added to mine, and my salary increased?

Would it be possible to request a new job and my current job to be condensed into one and request a pay increase? My manager wants to add two new positions to the team, so I had an idea that I can see if I can handle the responsibilities for one of the new positions (in addition to my current role). If that is possible, then I could take on those responsibilities and request a $30-40K increase in salary (I am currently making $90K), so she would only need to hire one new person instead of two. This would be much cheaper to the company since they would save money on salary and wouldn’t have to pay benefits to a new person. What is your opinion on trying to do something like this? I wanted to make sure it’s not too crazy before I would bring it up to my manager.

The only way it’s really feasible is if they don’t actually need two full-time people devoted to that work. The fact that they’re planning to hire two people seems to indicate that they do — or at least that they believe that they do. It’s going to be a hard sell to say “let me take on what you appear to believe is full-time job in addition to my own full-time job without sacrificing quality or quantity of work in either” — in fact, that’s basically an impossible sell. So your pitch would need to be that it you could do enough of each (your own job and the new one), and that the necessary sacrifices in each job would be worth making for some reason. It’s possible that that’s really true — but you’d need to really demonstrate that it is. And you’d need to simultaneously do that in a way that doesn’t imply that your current job isn’t valuable enough at full-time. So it’s pretty damn tricky. In some situations, it can end up making sense, but those situations are rare.

Also, be aware that if they did go for it, they won’t necessarily increase your salary by as much as you’re envisioning — so even if they agree, you might end up not liking the price they’d pay you for it.

3. Interview footwear when it’s snowy and slushy outside

Here’s a practical question that probably has an obvious answer I’m failing to think of: what do you do about professional footwear for interviews in the winter, in places where there are either piles of snow or lakes of grimy slush? When working in business casual or formal offices, I would wear snow boots to the office and change into pumps there, but if I’m only interviewing, it seems incredibly awkward to change shoes in the lobby and ask where to stash my dirty boots. Do I take a cab to the interview and hope that there are no sneaky slush puddles between the car and the building? Can I compromise by wearing tall leather boots, which are more casual but offer at least some measure of protection for my feet against the cold and for my pants against wet and dirt? What would you do?

I’d wear snow boots on the way there, change into dress shoes once there, and stash the boots in a professional-looking tote. That requires boots that aren’t really bulky, of course.

4. I resigned, but my boss doesn’t want me to tell anyone yet

I just gave my notice. I gave 2+ weeks. I’m in a management role. My boss and I have an okay relationship, but we’ve been discussing my “fit” at this organization for a little while and we’ve both agreed that it’s been difficult. I’ve been overwhelmed, overworked, and overlooked, and I haven’t been an A+ employee because of it.

When I gave my resignation, she wasn’t surprised and we actually had a candid discussion. She told me not to say anything to anyone yet, but she led me to believe that she was already thinking about contingency plans anyway. I’m two days in now from delivering the notice and I have not been given any green light to say anything to my staff or anyone. She hasn’t given me any instruction for what to do during my notice period as I’m now a “lame duck.” She just asked me to attend a meeting that has long-term decision points and I feel that’s unfair as I won’t be here when those take effect.

Granted, I only have a little over two weeks left, but any advice for what I should do? I’m getting mostly radio silence from my emails, save for the occasional, “Hey, can you send me this…” email.

You need to be able to tell your staff and other colleagues, so that they can plan and so that they don’t end up with the impression that you left with little or no notice.

I’d stop waiting for her to give you the go-ahead and instead say something like this to her, “I need to let people know that I’m leaving so that I can start working with people on transition plans. I’m planning to let my staff know later today, and everyone else tomorrow.”

If she objects, ask her why, and — unless she presents some reason that you find compelling — it’s fine to say in response, “I’m not comfortable keeping this a secret, and I feel professionally obligated to let people know I’m leaving.”

5. I gave an interviewer a salary figure, and then got a raise at my current job

I currently work in a healthcare role with a very specific set of skills. However, I am also finishing up my master’s in heatlhcare admin and hope to move to administration in the next few years.

I have an interview at an organization that is in another state and would require relocation. When I was asked my current salary by the new organization, I was completely honest with them and told them $X/hour. After the Skype interview, they asked me to come down (on their dime) for an on-site interview and said that the starting salary based strictly on my experience and certifications would be $X-2/hour. And that this number will be adjustable/negotiable following how well the on-site interview goes.

My husband and I decided that small difference was worth investigating further. Since that time (about two weeks ago) I was given a raise at my current job and now make $X+2. Of course, now I would rather make as close to that as possible if I move to another position. Is this something I should tell the recruiter? Or wait until salary is brought up again (either during the interview or with an offer?). Is it acceptable to change what i’m asking for in these circumstances? If it matters, it is a hard-to-fill position that I am perfectly qualified for with very applicable experience.

Yes, you should bring it up — your circumstances have changed, and it makes sense to let them know that. You could bring it up either ahead of the interview (if you don’t want to waste your time if their response is a clear no) or after the interview if you’re still interested at that point. I’d say something like this to the recruiter: “I want to let you know that since we talked about salary, I’ve received a raise at my current job and am now making $__. It would be tough for me to change jobs for less than that. Is that prohibitive on your end?”

Of course, if you’re actually willing to take less than that, you might want to take out the “it would be tough” language and maybe change the whole thing to something like “is that something you’d be able to match?”

{ 311 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Afiendishthingy

    #3- My snow boots would require a pretty large tote bag. I’m realizing now I can’t remember ever interviewing in the winter, but if I were, I would most likely go the dressy leather boots route. If the weather was really awful I’d just wear my pretty Muck Boots and say to hell with it. YMMV, but living in New England and working in a pretty casual field I don’t think it would be held against me.

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    1. Artemesia

      The thing is everybody has this problem; everyone at the office where the OP is interviewing probably came in in weather footgear. I have a pair of merrells that are slip ons, waterproof and warm that I wear in big snowy slushy northern city unless the snow is deep and taller boots are needed — about 20 per cent of the time. It would be easy to tuck them into a tote. If possible nip into a restroom in the building and change shoes, but doing it in the lobby would not be a problem if that is what one must do.

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    2. Sydney

      Just wear winter boots. If you are living somewhere where it snows enough that it’s a necessity it’s not an issue. I seriously doubt anyone is going to think you are a great candidate but you wore boots to the interview so you are out! Personally I think tucking wet snowy dirty boots in a tote and then carrying the tote to the interview is overkill.

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      1. Beth

        I have had this same issue many times (I live in Scandinavia where it does snow a lot). I usually do so that I use warm boots (my health is a priority) to go the interview and when there – either in the lobby or in the rest room – I change into ballerinas. I then leave my wet boots together with my coat into the cloakroom.

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        1. blackcat

          This is a great strategy: when you arrive, ask if there is a place to store your coat + boots. That’s a very, very reasonable request.

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        2. M-C

          I’d ask the receptionist as you check in – either they’ll direct you to a spot where employees leave their own boots, or they can stash them out of the way for you somewhere, whether it’s by the door or out of sight behind their desk. Nobody in their right mind would hold against you to be prepared for outside circumstances, in fact it should speak well to your practical sense :-).
          As a small aside, be sure you know exactly where your boots end up – if the receptionist is out to lunch or worse gone home for the evening when you leave, you don’t want to cause a major boot hunt through the office..

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      2. CheeryO

        Yeah, this. I’m from the land of snow (Upstate NY), and no one would twice about an interviewee asking where to stash a pair of winter boots. I interviewed quite a bit during the winter two years ago, and most places were proactive about showing me a closet for my coat and boots. And if they weren’t, I just found someone to ask. No big deal.

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      3. K.

        Exactly. I have a big bulky pair of Sorel winter boots (they’re awesome) and they don’t fit in any tote bag I have. I’d wear them to the interview, carry a pair of dress shoes, change in either the lobby or restroom, and ask to stash them somewhere. Ditto rain boots on a rainy day. It’s the same as wearing a coat, to me, or carrying an umbrella – certain weather requires certain gear.

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      4. Chinook

        ” If you are living somewhere where it snows enough that it’s a necessity it’s not an issue. I seriously doubt anyone is going to think you are a great candidate but you wore boots to the interview so you are out! Personally I think tucking wet snowy dirty boots in a tote and then carrying the tote to the interview is overkill.”

        I would go one further and say that there may even be a place to put your winter boots when you get to the office because they don’t want anyone tracking snow around their office (or maybe it is just a Canadian thing?). If they do, it is probably the same place you hang up your jacket.

        I would never contemplate putting wet or dirty boots in a bad because that could possibly make them unusable (as in they get wet and dirty inside, causing your feet to freeze) when you go back out.

        The only other alternative is to (eventually) invest in a pair of dress winter boots. They don’t make them suitable for colder than -20 (but at that temperature, no one smart cares what you look like) but most decent ones will have a slip-resistant sole, waterproof seams, a decent lining and look not half bad with a dress.

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        1. Heather

          I’m in Canada (Edmonton actually) and I’ve never seen an office where there was a public place to hang up coats and leave winter boots. I guess you could ask but I never bother. No one has ever offered either. I just wear my winter boots and leave my coat in the car.

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    3. StudentPilot

      I’m in eastern Ontario and I interviewed last winter in the brutal brutal cold. I had to wear an outer layer (parka, fleece pants, scarf, toque, massive boots) just to not freeze. I peeled it all off in their bathroom and left it all at reception in their cloak room. No one batted an eye – it’s a normal thing to do!

      (I got the job so it didn’t reflect badly!)

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        1. StudentPilot

          Yeah – it wasn’t much of a “cloak room” – but it wasn’t really a closet either. But, it was also at a government building that has a lot of people coming and going for testing (language tests, evaluations, ‘knowledge exams’, etc.)

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        2. Chinook

          “I’ve never interviewed or worked anywhere that had a cloak room. A small closet is all I’ve ever seen.”

          I suspect that this is a climate thing. When you live in a climate where warm clothes=survival, most offices have a place to put them that is big enough for at least a couple parkas.

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          1. Felicia

            I live in Toronto, which while not as cold as other parts of Canada, does have winters where it’s at the warmest -5C every day, and that’s still warm. -15C is more average.

            I think it’s because I’ve spent most of my career in small non profits with 10 employees or less , that also have small office spaces. These places generally don’t have good space for guests to wait either.

            At my current place of work we have a closet for our winter coat, hat, boots, scarves etc. and I suppose there would be a tiny bit of space for guests, but they would have to ask because it’s not obvious and I can see how someone in an interview wouldn’t see it (other small non profits i interviewed for have equally non obvious closets).

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    4. Felicia

      I’ve never encountered effective snow boots for the kind of snow we get that would fit in any reasonably sized tote. And if they did, it would make the tote all gross and wet and dirty. I usually went the dressy leather boots route when interviewing in winter, and I think that’s better.

      People in the office where you’re interviewing would totally understand the dilemma, though when I actually work somewhere, I have place to change and keep my snow boots, so it’s different when you’re interviewing.

      Also where exactly are you supposed to change your snow boots in this scenario?

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      1. Rebecca

        Use a respectable-looking re-useable shopping bag for the boots, that can get dirty and is dedicated to carrying shoes. No fancy “tote” needed. Seriously, no one will care if you are carrying an extra bag or need to stash it somewhere.

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        1. Andrea

          I’d just use a plastic bag or even a paper bag (or newspapers) to line the inside of a nice tote bag. But I don’t think it would be unreasonable to ask for a place to leave the boots. If it is cold enough for winter boots, you’ll have a coat, too. Most places will have a closet where you could hang your coat and the tote with the boots inside. It would be kind of awkward to carry the coat, tote bag with boots, briefcase/attaché, and (for women, anyway), a purse for the entire time.

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          1. Heather

            I don’t wear my winter coat to the interview. I leave it in the car. I’m not going to freeze running from the car to the building but my feet would if there’s snow

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            1. ThatGirl

              Leave it in the car? Do you think someone’s going to hold wearing a coat against you?

              Also, that’s not terribly feasible in a big city where you’re likely taking public transit, which it sounds like the OP would be.

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              1. Heather

                No but I also don’t want to have to deal with lugging a coat through out the interview. I’ve never been offered to have my coat hung up or a place to leave my winter boots either.

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                1. ToxicNudibranch

                  Right, but it’s not out of the ordinary to ask “Is there someplace I can put my coat?”, either. I have literally never been met with anything other than a friendly, helpful response.

                  If you want to leave your coat in the car, that’s fine, but no one is going to judge you or think you’re weird for wearing it in and asking where to put it.

              2. Felicia

                Yeah if you don’t have a car, or if it’s -15C you’re not going to want to do that. I can’t imagine not wearing a coat for even 30 seconds in regular winter.

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                1. Al Lo

                  When I go to the mall in winter, I’m always weighing how much I want to walk the ~90 seconds from the car to the mall without a coat with how much I want to drag my coat around with me for the several hours I’m shopping. Often, leaving the coat in the car wins, even when it’s -25. However, when I’m going into a place where I can presume that there will be a place to leave my stuff, I don’t take it off.

                2. Heather

                  I live where it is regularly -15 C and colder. And yes I do leave it in the car at those temperatures. It’s only a 30 second dash to the front door. Am I cold? Yes. But it’s not like I’m wandering around and not knowing where I’m going. It’s my choice to leave it in the car so that I don’t have to lug it around while interviewing (plus it’s a down parka and it’s rustle-y sounding) or worry that it’s been stashed somewhere where I can’t get to it when I leave. It’s not going to kill me to be without a coat for a few seconds.

            2. Marcela

              I remember watching a documentary about strange health issues, where they said that people in the UK have a peak in cardiac problems in winter, with some people even dying from them. This was explained by the custom of not wearing a coat when they are going just 5 minutes away. For example, people going to clubs, they just jump on a taxi from home and then to the door of the club. The explanation was that the body’s response to the cold puts too much pressure on hearts, and it can fail in the form of a heart attack. Since then, nobody is going to convince me to leave my huge almost-a-sleeping-bag behind (when I was living in Boston).

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    5. Chocolate lover

      One of my first interviews after college was in December with snow and slush on the ground. It was wear the snow boots or not go. There was no one I could ask to drive me and no money for a cab (if that even occurred to me, taking cabs was just not done in my family because of expense.) I changed into shoes I’m the restroom, and one of the employees let me leave my coat and boots in her office. If they made a stink about boots in Massachusetts in the snow, then probably not a place I’d choose to work if I could avoid it.

      They must not have cared though, cause I got the job.

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    6. Lily Evans

      I have an interview tomorrow and I was wondering about the footwear thing too but then they told me that we’ll be going to separate buildings so I’m going the dressy (fake) leather boot route with some warm socks.

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    7. Pwyll

      Yeah, I agree with everyone else here. I’m also in Massachusetts, and no one has batted an eye about switching shoes and storing boots in the wintertime. I even once, during a particularly bad snow storm, didn’t even bother with a change of shoes. I called in advance to see if we were still meeting, they told me yes, and in the interview I just apologized for wearing my boots. They thanked me for still coming out to interview in a foot of snow. It really wasn’t an issue at all.

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    8. the gold digger

      In the frozen north where people where jeans, snow boots, and sweatshirts to the theatre because nobody wants to ruin their good shoes on the icy sidewalk (or slip and fall) and nobody wants to be cold. I fought it for a few years, wearing my heels and nice dresses, but have finally surrendered. Snow, ice, and cold win and almost everyone up here gets that.

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      1. Chinook

        “where people where jeans, snow boots, and sweatshirts to the theatre because nobody wants to ruin their good shoes on the icy sidewalk (or slip and fall) and nobody wants to be cold.”

        As someone who regularly wears dresses with her fake mukluks (they zip instead of tie and have heavy rubber soles but same look), I don’t see why one should dress down to stay warm. I am all for wearing jeans, but nothing says “true Canadian” like an evening dress, Sorels, thick mitts and a mismatching scarf. No one really cares what you look like until you are in the building (unless the building is unheated – then all bets are off).

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        1. the gold digger

          Chinook, I realized that my nice dress was for naught because I had to keep my coat on inside the theatre! I guess they don’t want to overheat (we are not Chicago with their sweltering hot buildings that make dressed for winter me nauseated), but they go too far in the other direction.

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      2. Blue_eyes

        You just reminded me of the time I was DETERMINED to wear a pair of heels to my friend’s birthday party. We only had to walk about two blocks to the bar, but there had been freezing rain all day and the sidewalks were a solid sheet of ice. Luckily my husband convinced me that I was being silly and should just put on some sensible shoes already so I wouldn’t slip and hurt myself. It was quite a treacherous walk even in boots!

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    9. Jubilance

      The last time I interviewed in the winter, it was very snowy in MN. I said to hell with it and wore my snow boots, and no one batted an eye. If you live in a part of the country that gets snow, I think people understand that you need to wear boots. I’m super afraid of slipping and falling (my friend slipped on the ice and broke her ankle last year) so I’m wary of even wearing dressy boots in the snow – I don’t think there’s enough friction to keep you safe.

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    10. Elizabeth West

      We had to dress up yesterday in case visiting clients came into our area, and I wore a dress (ugh!) with tights and tall leather boots. They weren’t snow or farmer boots–they were nice black Born boots with buttons on the side (I call them my pirate boots, LOL). I wouldn’t think twice about anyone wearing something similar in winter–in fact, I’d probably compliment someone on them.

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    11. Book Person

      Adding my agreement to all of the above. In my part of Canada where it is often -30 or lower and snowy AND damp, snow boots are a requirement. I honestly cannot think of much I would care less about than a candidate wearing appropriate footwear. I hire in the winter and summer, and I don’t think I’ve ever noticed what someone was wearing on their feet. Dress nicely and wear whatever footwear is appropriate to the weather. If you’ll be uncomfortable in your boots indoors (I have some thermal boots that would be far too hot inside), then sure bring a change, but otherwise I wouldn’t worry.

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    12. Seven of Nine

      As I was leaving my house this morning, I noticed it snowing outside… so I quickly swapped out my dress shoes for my tall leather wedge boots. I wore them to a sales meeting this morning with dress pants (under) and a blazer, and no one batted an eye — if we don’t get the client, it certainly won’t be due to my boots. :)

      For whatever it’s worth, I’m a firm believer in wearing boots to the office, cuddleduds under dress pants, and fleece lined leggings under my tights when I wear skirts. It was 2 degrees farenheit here earlier this week, and I like to think people respect the common sense to dress appropriately for the weather, albeit in a classy way.

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  2. LisaLee

    #1. It’s probably in your best interest to *not* approach this as instituting a ban or rule against political talk, but as a personal dislike of political talk. I think people will swallow “Sally doesn’t like talking about politics” much more easily than “Sally wants to ban us expressing our opinions!” Just be consistent with how you respond when the politics start up, and make sure you’re not discussing your own political opinions either. It might not stop all political talk (which is probably impossible) but hopefully people will stop talking about it around you.

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    1. fposte

      I agree heartily with this. You’re much likelier to get people on board with a “Can I ask you not to around me?” than a “You shouldn’t.” Downthread people are responding pretty strongly to the notion of somebody they work with trying to make a rule like this at them, and I think that’s pretty predictable–and it also isn’t likely to get them on board, so they’d be antagonizing co’p-workers without even getting the outcome they want.

      I also think there’s something to be said for Mike C’s approach, but not everybody can pull that off.

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    2. april ludgate

      I think a blanket ban on political talk is a step too far, but it should be perfectly reasonable to not talk about politics during meetings. There’s a huge difference between having these discussions in the break room where people can come and go as they please or put on headphones to drown it out and talking about it in a meeting where everyone in the room is a captive audience. That happened at the beginning of a meeting I was at recently and I was uncomfortable even though I agreed with my coworkers just because it’s rude to vehemently praise or insult political figures or points of view in a crowd of acquaintances who don’t have the option of bowing out of the conversation.

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      1. Ultraviolet

        Yeah, I think OP’s best bet is to just say “Can we please not talk about this stuff at meetings?” whenever it comes up at a meeting. (As LisaLee says, you do have to watch yourself to make sure you say it even in response to stuff you agree with.)

        You could also be more specific than “this stuff” and say either “the presidential election” or “politics.” “The presidential election” will probably go down better and it sounds consistent with what you want. I think it’s reasonable to say “politics in general” or “politics that don’t inform our work” but the boundaries of what “politics” encompasses is by no means clear. (Enjoying the discussion elsewhere on this post about that.)

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  3. It's Jessica

    #3- Have you tried ankle boots or low cut boots that you can hide under slacks ? I usually wear mine most of fall and winter except in extreme weather. Of course i prefer snow boots when its snows, but a couple of hours in ankle boots for an interview is not the worst thing. You don’t have to worry about snow getting in you shoes ( happened to me), you can layer with warm socks and you can still look professional.

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    1. Hornswoggler

      Or galoshes? I was quite surprised to find that there are lots of modern versions of this ancient footwear.

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    2. PNWAnon

      I would also recommend ankle boots. If you’re worried about snow and water splashing on your pants and getting them dirty, you could also get a cheap pair of hiring gators to wear while you walk. They fold up pretty small, so they’d be easy to put in a plastic bag in your purse.

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  4. Bluehoodie

    #5: I’m in a similar boat, although the final offer and raise haven’t come just yet…but I expect by the end of the month I’ll have the same story. It’s a good spot to be in, especially if you’re happy with your current job and salary at the moment…which is the case for me. The company I’m applying to even knows that my old job is about to renegotiate contracts, so the timing is really perfect.

    Of course, moving to a new job isn’t entirely about salary…sometimes the learning opportunity is too great to pass up!

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  5. Mike C.

    Telling people not to mention politics at all feels adversarial to me. I work in a diverse environment where such discussions are the norm for many and it’s really not that big of a deal if someone holds a different political opinion than you do. Even beyond that, there are issues where regulatory changes and legislative action (or lack thereof) directly affect our business and workplace. Not to mention related issues like polling/sampling techniques and baysian modeling. A few too many steak dinners by the former House majority leader lead directly to serious problems for my employer, for instance.

    Frankly, the amount of networking and general bonding that I’ve had over such discussions (mostly from those who disagree with me!) has led to mutual respect and better working relationships. It’s one thing if you’re dealing with a jerk who just cheerleads, but I find most folks who follow politics regularly to have considered and nuanced views and can take disagreement without being disagreeable. It’s nothing to be afraid of, and it likely has a larger impact on your business than you first realize.

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    1. meg

      But there’s a difference between casual conversation and work meetings. At a previous job, my boss was a prominent donor and it kind of came up a lot at lunch and such because it would be in the news all the time. Politics had absolutely nothing to do with our day to day work, but it was such a big factor in public perception of the company.

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      1. Mike C.

        By the way, if folks are actually curious about this donations over $200 to parties and candidates (but not SuperPACs!) are open records.

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    2. Sue Wilson

      I find most folks who follow politics regularly to have considered and nuanced views and can take disagreement without being disagreeable.

      I think the assumption that the people who talk about politics are close in composition to the people who follow politics closely (and are therefore more likely to be reasonable about it) is not one that generally bears out. You seem to be in a job where following politics is somewhat necessary or is at least helpful. For most jobs that is not true, and the overlap between “follows politics closely” “is reasonable about discussions of politics” and “talks about politics” is significantly decreased, so if politics comes up, you will by virtue of the discussion get the latter, but not likely the former two.

      On a personal note, there’s nothing positive anyone could say about the headlining policies of Trump or Cruz or Rubio, or the overall character of the first two, that would make me believe they would be reasonable in discussion.

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      1. Mookie

        Yep. From what the OP insinuates, it sounds like people praising / fanboying a certain Person of Orange for his “truth”-telling, where truths are convenient, one-dimensional prejudices that one temporarily adopts to appeal to the lowest common denominator in a fight one has no intention of winning (but it’ll make a fine tax write-off, and maybe a decade’s worth of cushy speaking deals). It might, in fact, be adversarial to ask these people directly to stop metaphorically fellating human-troll doll hybrids in your presence, but there’s a polite way to do it, too. Just threaten them, in friendly fashion, with a lengthy Howard Zinn excerpt every time they want to tell you about the moo-slums (or whatever bogey-of-the-week).

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        1. fposte

          Or the OP is a conservative who’s had it up to here with Clinton, or a Hillary supporter surrounded by people who can’t shut up about feeling the Bern. There are people in every camp who talk politics at work, and the OP was pretty careful not to throw shade at any one group, so I think it makes sense to proceed without assuming this is political talk you would necessarily disagree with yourself.

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            1. OP #1

              No worries, I didn’t specify the politician because I don’t want that to color the advice I get. I’m generally trying to figure out how to keep conversations had in places where I can’t escape (like meetings) neutral.

              Reply
              1. F.

                Actually, you can’t control the conversation, you can only control your response to it. For example, my husband and I were recently eating out at a family-style restaurant and had to endure a graphic, loud discussion of another diner’s surgery. Disgusting to say the least, especially while eating! However, we controlled OUR reactions by ignoring their conversation and focusing on enjoying our meal and our conversation and did not allow it to spoil our experience. Sometimes you just have to be the better person and let it go.

                Reply
                1. Ruthie

                  That isn’t a good analogy. A better one would be if these people were your coworkers and having this “disgusting” discussion in your office at a meeting. Then yes, I hope you would be able to assert boundaries for your and everyone else’s comfort.

          1. Kate M

            I agree for the most part, with the caveat that with some of the aforementioned candidates, it can veer into racist/sexist/homophobic territory, rather than just political discussions. (And i say this as someone who works at a bipartisan lobbying firm, and gets along with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who are staunchly one side or the other). In that case, though, it would make sense to address the actual issues (racism, etc), versus instituting a ban on any political talk (except for your own conversations).

            *Not trying to derail the conversation, just noting that there can be some intersection between things people don’t want to hear at work.

            Reply
            1. fposte

              It can veer into broad insult with any of the candidates. The worst political bullying I encountered was from somebody who worked for a candidate in my own party.

              The position from which I sympathize with the OP is sometimes I just have enough, period, and would like a break from the relentless stuff; I think the notion that it’s offensive when one side does it and not the other is a problem in its own right.

              Reply
              1. Kate M

                Of course it can happen from both sides, I’ve experienced the same from within my own party as well. It should never be tolerated no matter who it’s coming from. But I think it’s a little tone deaf to say that every candidate is the same on this, when there are some that have platforms directly built on racism/sexism, etc, and are very open about it.

                But yeah, anybody should be able to opt out of conversations on the topic at work if they want. Nobody should be forced to participate in a political conversation when it’s not part of their job.

                Reply
                1. fposte

                  To be clear, I didn’t say every candidate is the same; I said that I object to the notion that it’s only offensive when one side does it.

          2. JessaB

            You don’t even have to disagree with the politics to want it to be shut up about in places you’re a captive audience. That was always my father’s rule – can you leave or can’t you. If you can’t leave the conversation it’s okay to say “hey can we leave off “politics, religion, whatever generally contentious thing is going around today, including ‘donate to this thing.'” He was really big against the old fashioned pass the can at the theatre bit. He would give like crazy (a 20 in the 60s) if they put the cans along the concession stand, but if they bugged him in front of the whole theatre he wouldn’t give a penny. He had a thing about being guilt confronted about anything. So by the water cooler where you can go back to your own desk fine, in a meeting where you have to be there, “can we keep this on topic pleeeeease? Thanks.”

            Reply
          3. Turanga Leela

            I read “HUGE” as code for the repellent politician. But it doesn’t matter; as you point out, fposte, this could be any politician at any number of workplaces.

            Reply
          1. Green

            Setting aside “actual politics” (i.e., whether the policies proposed are good or bad and whether the statements made are right or wrong), there are some work-related issues right now with espousing political views, given the topics of debate. Some of the views espoused by the candidates, and statements they are making, with regard to sexual orientation, gender identity, Hispanics, Muslims, national origin, etc. violate many companies’ policies regarding diversity and inclusion in the workplace. If you are a supporter of a candidate who is known for saying things that aren’t “politically correct”, then you probably shouldn’t discuss your support for that candidate at the office — if he or she isn’t “politically correct”, there’s a good chance that their statements aren’t appropriate for your workplace. Expressing support at the office for one of those candidates may conflate you with the worst statements that candidate has made, and could cause problems from an inclusion and diversity policy perspective.

            Reply
      2. Mike C.

        With actual political figures, who knows?

        But time and time again I’ve found that there is a wide gulf between how followers are portrayed and what people are like in person.

        That being said, there’s so much that falls under the umbrella of “politics” that does affect daily life at work that an outright ban feels incredibly overdone.

        Reply
        1. Sue Wilson

          Well, stans of any sort are obnoxious, but frankly stans are not what I’m talking about when I say gap between informed talk and just talk can be and usually is wide. There are plenty of things that affect people daily that they don’t understand in the least, and lack of understanding rarely stops people from speaking or being certain of their rightness. “Strong and wrong” is a typical human condition that supersedes all sorts of differences in socio-political class.

          As for my personal note, well, I don’t think it’s uncommon for people to believe that certain viewpoints reflect overall on the person having them.

          Reply
    3. Ad Astra

      I have on occasion met people who can discuss politics in a calm, nuanced way — like “Well, I think that money would be better spent on this program, because that other program is ineffective at tackling this issue.”

      Most people I know from work, though, just say disparaging things about poor people or immigrants and I don’t really want to hear it.* I’m genuinely surprised that your experiences have been different.

      *Of course, when I worked in news, we all made an effort not to express a lot of political opinions outside the abstract “This will help/hurt his/her campaign” sorts of comments — but people with college educations who are perpetually broke do tend to lean left.

      Reply
    4. OP #1

      That’s interesting, your workplace sounds nice. My workplace environment is very different from what you’ve described.

      Reply
    5. neverjaunty

      Yes, so, “my own experience has been positive so yours ought to be too” is not especially helpful to the OP, and she mentions down thread that her workplace is in fact not one where people are thoughtful and mutually respectful.

      Of course, in that kind of environment, framing it as ‘whoa, leave me out of this, sorry guys’ is definitely better than asking for anything that might be interpreted as a workplace ban.

      Reply
    6. Elizabeth West

      I don’t want to talk about politics at work at all. I don’t want to know which of my coworkers are racist Trumpholes. I have to block enough of that crap on Facebook (I live in a place where someone hung a Confederate flag with a noose on it, if that gives you any idea what it’s like around here). Plus, it’s boring. BORING. Sports are even more boring. I’d rather talk about sports than politics!

      That said, it’s perfectly okay to ask that meetings stay on topic. You can mostly avoid those discussions in break rooms. In meetings, not so much.

      Reply
    7. J.B.

      Downthread you bring up the concept of political discussions relevant to work (can’t find it now). There’s a big difference between discussing politics and the election and specific relevant events. There is a big news item right now directly relevant to my work and I have spoken with a couple of people about that, plus the overall implications of political tone on our work. That is hugely different from talking about specific candidates in the current election and the most heated rhetoric aimed at the base. The OP had a reason for writing in. We should probably assume that the conversation is actually bothersome (possibly ugly) and not work relevant.

      Reply
    8. Anxa

      What an interesting experience.

      I think years ago I vaguely remember people being interested in political discussions and debates at work and in social settings, but lately whenever politics come up at work, it’s someone trying to bait me (based on my demographics, I’m pretty mum on politics myself) and anyone else they can into a one-way diatribe. I had a person shove his phone into my face with clips of the president taken out of context insinuating we were all heading toward death camps and some weird podcasts. It was a volunteer position, and causing me enough stress to help nudge me toward quitting.

      Reply
    9. Green

      Discussing tax policy or business regulation has a very difference impact in the workplace, though, vs. discussing same sex marriage, transgender individuals, Muslims or Jews, Mexicans or Syrians, etc.

      Reply
    10. Student

      Some of us work at companies where taking a political position (or the mere appearance or impression of taking a political position) is actually illegal and/or contrary to our funding source.

      I work at a non-profit funded primarily by the government, mostly doing contract work for the government. We have actual written policies on politics at work. They tried hard to balance our ability to advocate for our own political preferences outside of work with the business need to make sure the company never takes a political position. However, they ask us to err on the side of caution, especially regarding water-cooler-type political discussions, because our funding can, will, and should get pulled if our company gives a government client the impression we are interfering in elections.

      Reply
    11. F.

      Mike C., if you were ever in my neck of the woods, I would love to discuss politics with you over dinner. I don’t imagine we would agree on a lot (though I could be surprised), but I am sure it would be entertaining and educational!

      Reply
  6. Matt

    #1: I’m working as a software developer at my city’s municipality IT department, and one of my responsibilities is the software for elections. So whenever there are elections, a huge team of coworkers and myself will sit there during counting, and if everything works well, have a lot of time to chat. Talk about no political talk in this environment ;-) but it’s always very friendly and peaceful although we are a lot of people with a lot of different political views.

    Reply
    1. KR

      I also work in a municipality and our IT department is in the same office that films all local government meetings and manages the TV station! Talk about politics – we film the meetings and have no choice but to know everything about the political landscape of this town. If that wasn’t enough, our public access camera operators are out all the time filming presidential candidates of all varieties (we’re located in either Iowa or New Hampshire, your guess). I completely empathize with the OP here. Like your work though, most of our discussions are friendly and none of us are the opposite sides on the spectrum.

      Reply
  7. Elizabeth the Ginger

    #5, you might also want to check how cost of living compares in your current location and the state you’d be relocating to if you got this job, not just the raw numbers. It’s possible that $X-2 there is actually similar to $X where you are – or possible that even $X there would represent an effective pay cut if it’s more expensive there!

    Reply
    1. Anon for this

      Agree with cost of living comparison. If they are comparable, then I wouldn’t accept a pay cut if the position is truly that hard to fill.

      Reply
    2. Stranger than fiction

      Yes just google cost of living calculator and there’s ones where you just pop in your current city and salary and the city you’re considering and it spits out “the comparable salary for X city is $__”. It’s great I’ve used it several times for curiosity ’cause someday I want to get the heck out of this state.

      Reply
  8. Seianus

    ” It makes me uncomfortable to hear them praise this person” you should understand different people have different opinions and just because they make you uncomfortable doesn’t give you a right to silence them. At least that’s how it works in my country, not sure about USA.

    Reply
    1. Ani

      Also, there’s another type of political dynamics at least as dangerous here: OP describes wanting to a *rule* in the office — for her *managers* and coworkers.

      Reply
    2. Engineer Girl

      I agree with this. If you want diversity then there absolutely will be people that express opinions that you don’t like. Being an adult means you learn to tolerate them. You don’t have to endorse them – just tolerate them.
      I find it frightening that you want to silence others with whom you disagree. Are your own beliefs so fragile that you can’t handle the beliefs of others?
      I like Alison’s statements because they show that there is room for differing opinions and focusing on the fact that not everyone likes discussing politics (more diversity). That said, I’ve found that I’ve learned much from those with differing opinions. There’s a reason people came by those opinions and it’s nice to hear why. There may be points that you never thought of.

      Reply
      1. Tara R.

        But there’s no reason for political diversity in the workplace, because there’s no place for politics. I don’t want to hear that my coworkers think I should be denied basic human rights because of my sexuality or that my friend should be driven out of the country because of her religious practices; they probably don’t want to hear that I think Obama should be tried as a war criminal because of drone strikes in the Middle East (ok, I don’t 100% believe that, I was trying to come up with something similarly extreme-sounding from a left perspective). Not wanting that to be a topic of discussion at work isn’t scary or silencing– it’s recognizing that this simply isn’t the place for it.

        Reply
        1. Mike C.

          If people are saying things that are actually harmful then they’ve crossed a line and need to be respectful. In the meantime, such rules would ban all discussion of policies, legislation and regulation that will affect the workplace.

          Reply
        2. Engineer Girl

          If you hire a diverse group you will always get diverse backgrounds and beliefs. You want a diverse background for diverse problem solving. That’s just healthy.
          The workplace will always have politics because people work there. No one wants to hear something that causes them offense or pain. Yet it is still important to hear those opinions so you can engage in discussion with the other person. Suppression of discussion is the greatest intolerance of all.
          To say that a workplace isn’t a place for such discussions is silly. A good workplace will foster relationships between people and you can’t have a good relationship without knowing more about the person – warts and all. I’ve found that having my beliefs questioned has many times made them stronger. I’m forced into reflecting why I believe what I believe. Being uncomfortable can be a sign of growth.

          Reply
          1. Seriously?

            Really? Suppressing discussion of why gay people don’t deserve rights or that all Muslims should be deported is the greatest intolerance of all?

            Sorry, but I’ll never buy the “Stop being intolerant of my intolerance!” line. There’s a point where you become so open minded your brain falls out.

            Reply
              1. blackcat

                But one person’s hate speech can be another person’s discussing politics. Seriously’s examples are things that some people take up as political issues, not human rights issues.

                Reply
                1. Mike C.

                  I think that’s much too simplistic. When someone starts saying negative things about people as groups by gender, race, creed, religion, nation of origin and so on, a clear line has been crossed.

                2. Hlyssande

                  Especially when the platform of some candidates seems to be built on little more than that hate speech.

                3. Zillah

                  But Mike, many campaigns are built around those ideas at least in part, and it’s not unreasonable for people to associate strong support of a candidate who’s very outspoken about prejudiced views with being in favor of those prejudiced views. There isn’t always a clear line, particularly when people have very different thresholds for what makes them feel uncomfortable based on background and privilege. One person may see their concerns about national security as completely legitimate, where another might see them as barely masking xenophobia and racism.

                  That doesn’t mean that one should never talk about politics, but it does mean that it should be approached with caution, and it’s important not to present the issue as being super clear-cut and simple.

                4. Chinook

                  “Seriously’s examples are things that some people take up as political issues, not human rights issues.”

                  This can’t be stressed enough – one person’s human right’s issue is another person’s political issue. And what some people see as a political stance another person can see as hate speech. Add into the fact that assumptions are sometimes made about a speaker’s ethical and moral values based on their political point of view on certain issues, and this is a whole can of worms that I can’t believe anyone would want to open up at work until they know they are working with people who can have a civil conversation with someone who disagrees with them. I have had these civil discussions with a boss or two (who often were diametrically opposed to me on a couple of issues), but only after months of non-confrontational topics of conversation and knowing that they are willing to debate, not insult, me

                5. asteramella

                  Blackcat hits the brain on the head.

                  I have lost count of how many times coworkers have casually made political conversation about topics that were directly relevant to me and my life, including endorsements of candidates whose main planks were focused solely on degrading my dignity as a human being. To them, it wasn’t personal. To me, it obviously was.

          2. blackcat

            I disagree with this: “Yet it is still important to hear those opinions so you can engage in discussion with the other person. To say that a workplace isn’t a place for such discussions is silly.”

            I have some pretty strong political opinions that I know would color others’ perceptions of me. At work, I want to be judged by my work. Not by my politics. I have had great working relationships with people who have very different beliefs–I only knew that in passing, though, and we did not talk about politics in depth. I have no problem ducking out of most political conversations, but if they were happening *during a meeting* I’d feel similarly to the OP. I don’t think wanting to avoid political talk during meetings is an unreasonable position.

            So long as people can be fired for their political beliefs (which, I do actually think is ok for certain things. I’m looking at you, Kim Davis), there will be plenty of people who will not talk politics in the workplace. I’ve been in both the majority and minority in terms of political leanings in workplaces, and it can be HARD to be part of a small minority. Keeping one’s head down and doing the best job possible is the way to go in such situations.

            Reply
            1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

              I just want to know what happened to the “no politics or religion in the office” rule of etiquette. Didn’t that used to be a thing?

              Reply
              1. blackcat

                I dunno. I’m one of those crazy millennials that knows nothing of etiquette :p

                My (extended) family abides by the old “no politics or religion at the dinner table” rule. My immediate family does not, because we can politely disagree. Among my father’s siblings, the was once an all at war at the dinner table. The lesson was learned. Politics may be discussed *after* dinner, when people can leave the room if they choose. I view this as a similar rule to meetings: no politics or religion discussed with a captive audience. Once the audience is free to leave, I don’t have a problem. It’s the being trapped that’s no good.

                Reply
              2. AnonForThis

                Well at least in Illinois where the fight between republicans and democrats is causing the collapse of many basic services and non-profits who depend on funding and grants that are currently frozen, not talking about politics at work is a little difficult. It is causing very visible and drastic changes that are not easy to ignore in day to day work.

                Reply
                1. fposte

                  Michigan has a budget, though, and just found $500 million. Illinois legally can’t pay out for most of its encumbrances right now. I’m basically getting my health care donated to me.

                2. Kyrielle

                  I’d argue that “no politics in meetings where politics are not relevant to the topic of meeting” would be the polite rule. If you are an organization affected by politics, and the meeting is about your funding issues occurring because of…politics!…then of course you are going to need to discuss politics.

                  But for those of us who, say, write software for games or stock warehouse shelves, getting together for the team meeting to discuss our goals, there’s no reason for anyone to talk politics – and I would ask that they not do so when others who might want to avoid the topic can’t leave the room. (Demand? No. Require? No. Ask. Because it would be courteous. If they keep discussing politics, they can do so – and now I have two data points. The first is whatever their political discussion covers, and the second is that they don’t care if I’m uncomfortable.)

              3. Mike C.

                It’s not a rule internationally, so when you start having international workplaces, you have to deal with differing norms. Having worked with folks who can loudly argue about politics at lunch but remain in good cheer before and after really changed my perspective on this.

                Reply
              4. MashaKasha

                It was a thing at my OldJob, and it’s still seems to informally be a thing at my current job, thankfully.

                In my family, I instituted the “no politics at holiday family dinners” rule, after in 2004 my Dad compared myself and my husband to “Jews in the 1933 Germany that voted for Hitler”. All because we voted for Kerry, the horrors. My side of the family is of Jewish heritage and this wasn’t something I wanted to hear more of in my own home, over a dinner that I’d spent time and money preparing. Color me intolerant. Dad only broke the rule once, to inform us that white people would soon no longer be in the majority in the US and that it is an awful thing for reasons I can’t recall. Outside of his political views, he was a great guy and a pleasure to talk to. So I put my foot down and limited the conversations to something we could all actually enjoy.

                These days, politics is so polarized and so intertwined with day-to-day life issues, it’s nearly impossible to talk about it in mixed company without stepping on people’s toes and upsetting or insulting half the people in the room. Which is all good and well if a political discussion is what everyone has signed up for. Not so much in a workplace environment, where, to blackcat’s point, they’re captive audience who cannot leave the discussion.

                Election years are the worst. I wish there was a desert island where people like myself could hide out for the entire election year, emerge on Election day to vote, then go back to the island again until the end of the year, when the whole thing blows over.

                Reply
              5. Cath in Canada

                We usually have an informal “no Canadian politics talk that isn’t about health or science policy” guideline in our lunch room, but that goes out the window during an election (although it was safe last time because no matter which of the various opposition parties we all supported, we were all united in our hatred of the incumbents). And for us, US politics is fair game any time, since it doesn’t get personal for us. It’s more like reality TV entertainment, but with the background possibility that the winner might decide to invade us ;)

                Reply
            2. the gold digger

              So long as people can be fired for their political beliefs (which, I do actually think is ok for certain things. I’m looking at you, Kim Davis

              It is OK to fire people for not doing their job. It is not OK to fire them for what they believe.

              Reply
              1. Kat

                This. It was never firing her for what she believed. She’s perfectly in her rights to believe that marriage between people of the same gender is amoral, no matter how much that may irritate you. What she was fired for is a refusal to do her job.

                Reply
          3. neverjaunty

            The standards of free speech that govern your favorite techie discussions board do not transfer well to the workplace.

            Reply
          4. MashaKasha

            Uh, no, I come in to work to get things done that improve my employer’s bottom line and put food on the table. Most of the time, this involves working together with others, because it requires our joint effort to get those things done. However I don’t want to have relationships with my coworkers. I don’t want to learn about their literal or metaphorical warts, and show them mine. None of us are being paid to do that, anyway.

            Some of my best friends, and one person I’ve dated, have been people I met through work. However these friendships and that relationship are the exception to the workplace norm. Let’s admit it, the majority of our coworkers will not hesitate to throw us, or anyone else on the team, under the bus if there’s a possible extra 1% raise resulting from it. I don’t want to get to know them better, I don’t want to know what they believe, I only want to collaborate with them in order to get work things done, while protecting myself from possible backstabbing on their end, and while also keeping my own integrity intact by refusing to engage in said backstabbing. Then at the end of the day, I want to go home and forget that they exist until the next morning. I love to engage in discussions (like I’m doing here), but not with people whose reaction to these discussions can directly affect my take-home pay. TL;DR I like to keep my work and my life separate.

            Reply
            1. aebhel

              However I don’t want to have relationships with my coworkers. I don’t want to learn about their literal or metaphorical warts, and show them mine. None of us are being paid to do that, anyway.

              This. I’m not interested in making friends with my coworkers, I’m interested in fostering a civil and pleasant working relationship. Heated political debate is one of the fastest ways to trash that, so I prefer to avoid it in the workplace.

              Reply
              1. OP #1

                I’m with you and MashaKasha. I am friendly with my coworkers, but they are not my confidants. I like to have boundaries at work.

                Reply
      2. get some perspective

        “Being an adult means you learn to tolerate them. ”

        No, there are views I don’t tolerate. I denounce them. People can say them, but if they say them in my presence I will denounce them or leave.

        We shouldn’t tolerate racism, fascism, homophobia and sexism, for example. I try not too (though I am a little bit sexist and racist myself – hard not to be growing up in the US – and appreciate when it’s called out).

        If it’s in my power to do so, I’ll denounce those things. I won’t advocate the government ban expressing these ideas, but I sure hope that everyone else denounce those views and not tolerate them.

        Also, THIS: “Really? Suppressing discussion of why gay people don’t deserve rights or that all Muslims should be deported is the greatest intolerance of all?”

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          Well sure, it’s not like there would be any actual gay people or Muslims at the workplace, these are all interesting intellectual issues that have no effect on anyone’s real life anyway, didn’t you know that?

          Reply
          1. I'm a Little Teapot

            Actually, there are a lot of political issues beyond the “identity politics” ones usually brought up that seriously affect people’s lives, sometimes in a life-or-death way. I’ve told the story here before of the time my boss at an old job was ranting about how government-subsidized health care shouldn’t exist; he was employed on a perm basis making far more money than me, and I was a part-timer who couldn’t find another job with compatible hours. I was on state-subsidized insurance because that’s all I could afford, and had just found out I might have cancer and needed testing. I briefly explained my situation and calmly told him that by expressing such views, he was telling me that I and others like me should just lie down and die. I knew that was not polite and a terribly impolitic thing to say to my boss – but I didn’t care and couldn’t be silent while he vocally wished me dead. I was terrified and furious and not in any state to be “reasonable” or “tolerant.”

            A lot of things are abstract intellectual matters only to those who have the privilege of not having to deal with them on a concrete level. Political arguments are often about real things that really affect people’s lives – often the lives of people who are present with you, whether you know it or not – not a fun game where the competition is friendly and we’re all buddies.

            Reply
            1. MashaKasha

              A lot of things are abstract intellectual matters only to those who have the privilege of not having to deal with them on a concrete level. Political arguments are often about real things that really affect people’s lives – often the lives of people who are present with you, whether you know it or not – not a fun game where the competition is friendly and we’re all buddies.

              Another +1000! Totally agree.

              Reply
            2. Zillah

              Yes, this. It’s often not a connection you make if you’re in the position of privilege to not be personally affected by the issue, but it’s a connection that most people personally affected by the issue will make. It’s the same issue as “playing the devil’s advocate” – the game is rigged when it’s abstract for one person but has significant implications for the other’s life.

              We generally agree here that it’s important to be aware and considerate about money in the workplace, in part because $20 means very different things depending on your situation. I don’t see this as being any different.

              Reply
          1. neverjaunty

            Isn’t it amazing how often the ‘free speech/intellectual debate is paramount’ types suddenly change their tune when they’re on the receiving end?

            Reply
    3. aebhel

      I agree that creating a rule is a bridge too far, but I also don’t want to listen to political ranting at my workplace, particularly in situations where arguing is likely to get me fired and I can’t just walk away. That’s not ‘silencing’ them any more than saying that I don’t want to be evangelized at on my lunch break is religious intolerance.

      OP should politely ask that they keep the political talk out of meetings, and politely avoid it the rest of the time.

      Reply
  9. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

    #2

    Requests like this are usually unrealistic and out of tune with management strategy. You can only cut the pie of your day into smaller slices, you can’t get more day.

    Let’s say I budgeted and planned to hire a body dedicated to social media. I did this so I’d have an entire body dedicated to social media. If someone with Other Job said, “I’ll handle social media, too, and I’ll save you money because you can just pay me 1/2 or 3/4 of what a new employee cost”, that won’t work because I still won’t have what I started out to get: a body dedicated to social media.

    Now….it can work when you’re talking about increased responsibility but not tasks. My career trajectory in management has gone this way as more responsibility has been folded in. In one example, a few years ago a small division of our company was closed, with the manager fired, and that division was folded into mine, under me. I got more bodies and some huge challenges in managing the closing down of that brand and integrating it into my others. This defacto increased my income because all of the product lines etc. became mine, part of my financial compensation structure although not an outright “here’s an extra $30k for you”.

    Still! The pie of my day did not get bigger. The value I brought wasn’t in being able to do more tasks, it was in being able to manage all of the people and tasks and transition while keeping everything else I was already responsible for humming.

    So, I’d start there. Are you talking about more tasks or more responsibility? And what is your manager’s goal? Is it more important to her to have a dedicated body for X or to save money on X?

    Reply
    1. MK

      More responsibility usually means a sort of promotion which of course should come with an appropriate raise (usually not a 30% increase in salary, though). If that was what the OP’s company had in mind, they would either promote the OP and hire someone junior to do some of her current work, or simply hire someone senior to her.

      OP, I really don’t think there is a way to tackle this that won’t come across as you being either underworked or overpaid or more. Saying you can do a second d job in your schedule, no problem, is practically admitting that you don’t have enough to do your employer might well think that you spent a third of your time twiddling your thumbs.

      And, on principle, I think it’s lousy idea to discourage your employer from hiring more workers; you are training them to think it’s OK to just dump the extra work in their existing staff, maybe with some additional compensation, instead of getting the people they need. Even if you are sure you can do both jobs (which I doubt, maybe you could do the basic tasks of both jobs), what if there is a spike in the workload? What if one job needs special attention at one time and you have to choose between doing it only adequately and neglecting the other one? Frankly, you are setting yourself up to fail here. And if you do, chances are the company won’t hire new people then, because you yourself sold them on it being unnecessary.

      Reply
      1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

        I agree with a lot of what you said here but….some ideas should be pitched. It’s not as if management has always thought through all possibilities and sagely arrived at the right course of action. My best day is when people bring me ideas (in tune with understanding what I’m trying to accomplish).

        Maybe the OP has a better idea how this job should be done. Maybe management should hear it. Maybe something great will come out of the conversation. What would make me as a manager listen would be the OP first asking me what I’m trying to accomplish.

        Reply
        1. MK

          Sure, but I think management is unlikely to have erred on the side of deciding to hire someone full-time to do work that can easily be fitted into the work schedule of someone who already has a reasonably full workload. But it’s definitely a good idea to ask questions first. If th e OP thinks she can fit the duties in her schedule, I assume it is because they don’t look time-consuming to her. She could ask about it, though I think she will likely hear that the new person will take on more duties than she realises, or that the company anticipates an increase in the work or wants someone to expand that particular area of business.

          Reply
      2. Colette

        One of the other reasons to hire someone is to make sure they can cross train so people can cover for each other if someone is sick or quits.

        For me, it comes down to whether what they want is someone to do X for three hours a week (in which case the OP might be able to take it on but a large raise wouldn’t be justified) or whether they need someone to do X full time (in which case the OP wouldn’t be able to do both).

        It’s possible the truth is in between, but it’s unlikely the OP can handle the workload and, if she can, that they’ll give her a substantial raise to do so.

        Reply
        1. F.

          It is also possible that they may want someone to do X to begin with but are planning to add Y and Z to their duties/responsibilities as the position matures.

          Reply
    2. hbc

      On the bodies thing, it very well may be that they just know they need more than one person doing X, so they have to hire two. So maybe if one day a week is dedicated to that work, it’s better than hiring another person.

      Still, you’re right that it screams “I have too much free time.” Unless OP has been begging Boss for more work, can make the case that she’s made efficiency improvements, or some of her current tasks can be easily eliminated or off-loaded, she’s setting herself up for some side eye.

      Reply
    3. Graciosa

      The request the OP is considering would read as pretty clueless to me.

      Org design is a big deal, and adding head count is not easy in my (admittedly very large) company. If there was a decision to add two heads, a lot of people considered this quite seriously and decided that at least two heads were needed to address this need. The reason I say “at least” is because I’ve seen this happen when everyone agrees that the real need is for five, but you get permission to start out with two heads to prove out the benefits before hiring the other three in future phases.

      Having someone who has no understanding of what I’m looking for and did not participate in any of the discussion or analysis come in and tell me that I really don’t need more than one is *not* going to be well received.

      Also, Wakeen is (unfortunately) absolutely correct that the size of the work day did not change. I actually don’t want people overworked – they’re more productive when they’re not – and the corresponding obligation I have as a manager is to make sure we’re correctly staffed. I am not likely to appreciate a subordinate sabotaging my efforts in this area.

      But given that the OP here is proposing to reshape the org so that there is only one new position and one existing position that is reframed as a combination role, I should also make it clear that even if I went along with this (which is unlikely, as my very strong instinct is that it leaves me down a head) the proper compensation for this position has NOTHING to do with what the salary would be for TWO people performing work in different jobs individually. The combination role would be a single one, and the appropriate compensation would be based on the market value of an individual who can perform ONE job which includes a slightly different scope of work.

      To give you an example, some sports teams need a dedicated athletic trainer, and some sports teams ensure that one of the assistant coaches has taken some extra classes and knows enough to ice a pulled muscle (followed later by heat).

      The market price of the latter is not likely to be enormously (a third???!!!!) higher than a run of the mill assistant coach in that sport and market (actually, it’s probably much less than assistant coaches in bigger markets who do *not* have to serve as athletic trainers because there’s a premium on specialization).

      If I thought I could combine the roles, I would have done it already, but I doubt it would have come directly with extra compensation. The OP would still only be working one day each day.

      So my perspective about this request would be that the OP is asking me to give up significant work (an entire additional headcount!) and accept less output in order for the OP to make a grab at a *huge* salary jump which is seriously out of whack with the market value of the work.

      Obviously that’s not going to happen.

      My professional response would probably be along the lines that it’s an interesting idea, but we really need two people dedicated to the specified work full time, although the OP was certainly welcome to apply to one of those positions if the OP met the qualifications.

      But it would also convince me that the OP is pretty clueless.

      Reply
      1. TheAssistant

        This is really valuable perspective from someone low on the totem pole eager to develop skills by taking on new tasks. I really appreciate the thought you put into this comment – helps folks like me learn what the difference is between “showing initiative to grow in a role” and “being completely tone-deaf to organizational needs”. Well done, and thank you so much!

        Reply
        1. Wakeen's Teapots, Ltd.

          Don’t be shy about asking questions. You don’t have to wait until people come to ask for your help.

          “Would it help if I [learn this thing] [do this thing] [take over supervising this thing]?” Tone deafness happens when people assume that their idea is helpful and valuable without having the context to judge its worthiness.

          But you don’t have to wait for things to come to you.

          Reply
        2. Graciosa

          I am really impressed by your response (and would be impressed if I were managing you). What I wrote could be interpreted pretty harshly, and responding to that with grace is a skill that will serve you well.

          Also, Wakeen’s Teapots, Ltd. is absolutely right about asking questions – it’s only tone deaf if you assume you know the answer or don’t listen to one when you receive it.

          Best wishes.

          Reply
  10. PoisonIvy

    #3: I’d arrive a few minutes early and change shoes in the restroom. I would bring a stylish tote to stash the boots in. Otherwise I’d invest in a pair of dressy all-weather boots. Geox makes a range called Amphibiox for this purpose. It’s a European brand so I’m not sure if it’s available in the USA, but a quick look at “all-weather women’s dress boots” on sites like Lord & Taylor, Nordstrom, etc have a few similar options once you scroll past all the Uggs and duck boots. I’ve seen some black shearling lined ankle boots that I’m considering for myself now (thanks for the shopping excuse!). I wouldn’t want to walk miles in heavy snow in them, but they look like they’d do the job walking from the subway or bus.

    Reply
    1. KR

      I would also recommend a great pair of basic flat soled leather boots. Put under slacks, they can look just like dress shoes. Or, you can tuck skinny pants into them. I have a pair of red wings that go to my upper calf, have no decals or heel on them, and are lace up. I wear them almost every day in the winter because they’re water proof, comfortable, I can wear thick socks under them and they’re so freaking warm and practical that no one ever questions them. (They’re also motorcycle safe so I could jump on a motorcycle at a moments notice, which (long story) did happen on the clock once!)

      Reply
  11. JL

    Q3: I had an international job interview last year in a Nordic country. I was a bit nervous about this too, but there was no way around wearing more bulky clothes and shoes than what I would normally wear at an interview. I found that this wasn’t a problem at all – it seems to further north you go, the more accepted it is to go for practical over stylish. I felt a little bit silly, but no one batted an eye or even noticed.
    I got said job, and now that I moved to a very snowy country, I wear snow shoes on my way to work, and then change into nice pumps at my desk, and this is seen as completely normal. I wouldn’t worry about it.

    Reply
    1. Colette

      By snow shoes, you mean snow boots (I.e. Footwear that protects your feet from the snow), right? Wearing snow shoes (flat, mesh oval-shaped platforms you strap to your boots) would be very cool.

      Reply
      1. blackcat

        I live in the Boston area. Last year, during EPIC SNOW that broke the city, one of my neighbors needed to go into work on a particularly snowy day. She busted out her cross country skis and skied the 4 ish miles to work.

        You do what you’ve got to do.

        Reply
        1. JL

          And sometimes, it can be fun! I’m lucky enough to live in walkable(it) distance from my office, and I’ve come to really enjoy walking in the snow every morning and evening. Even if it takes longer than driving, I wouldn’t change it! Not sure I’d go for skiing to work every day though – unless I could be sure I can take a shower when I arrive.

          Reply
          1. Kelly L.

            Snow is usually fine, within reason (until it’s plowed into 2-ft drifts on the sidewalks). It’s ice that’s a pain to walk in.

            Reply
            1. Cath in Canada

              I used to work with a woman from Siberia. We had a very icy stretch of weather one year, and I saw her happily striding along the pavement near work one day while I was falling all over the place. Turns out she’d glued some very coarse sandpaper to the soles of her shoes, and thought it was really, really strange that no-one else had done this super obvious thing!

              Reply
        2. Kat

          Teeheee–I have a Samoyed (big fluffy white dog that is adorable and is used for pulling sleds) and we do urban mushing with her (yes, this is a thing).

          Last year when we had an epic snowstorm that was then covered with solid ice but I still HAD to get to work, I borrowed my neighbors Husky who we had met before, hooked the two of them to a kid’s sled, and mushed my way to work. I got some crazy looks when I got into the office, but I got there in record time and had two furry buddies to keep me company all day.

          Then I mushed all home–beats rush hour traffic!!!

          Reply
          1. Kelly L.

            Flooooooofies!

            I always used to daydream of attaching a Radio Flyer to my rottweiler and letting her pull me around town (in normal weather, not snow). Mostly inspired by how much she liked to pull on the leash when she was young.

            Reply
            1. Kat

              When there’s no snow (and now that we’re in Florida), we use a dog scooter :)–one dog can pull me easy, but we do occasionally meet up with friends and hook up to 3 or 4…then we FLY

              Reply
          2. AvonLady Barksdale

            That is so awesome. My buddy would be all, “Mama, what are you doing? You want me to what?” and then he would stop and sniff everything along the way.

            Reply
            1. Kat

              They actually learn really fast! My girl was a wandering doofus, but we paired her with an experienced dog to coach her at first, and within 2 sessions she was great at it and learned all the voice commands (left, right, slow, on by, etc).

              Reply
        3. alter_ego

          I went to school in Boston, and I saw people skiing across campus a couple of times during really bad snow. The first time it happened, I was so distracted I slipped on some ice and fell on my ass.

          Reply
      2. Cath in Canada

        I snowshoed to work one day! We had several feet of snow (not normal for Vancouver, so we don’t have the snow ploughs and other infrastructure to deal with it). The buses were beyond backed up and it was way too snowy to cycle, so hiking boots and snow shoes were the best option. Took about an hour and it was really good fun! Luckily the transit system was back up and running before I had to go home uphill in the dark though!

        Reply
    2. TCO

      Agreeing with you here in Minnesota–when it gets cold or snowy, form trumps function in nearly every workplace. I used to work in an outdoorsy store, and people new to the state were shocked when I assured them that people here wear their big snow boots to work, church, etc. and no one bats an eye.

      Reply
  12. nep

    Re #1 — People are praising or touting a political figure you find repellent. So what. How does this harm anyone? I would be quite put off by someone at work looking to limit topics of casual conversation. Unless chit-chat is getting in the way of work — no matter the subject (which is another issue entirely), just focus on your own thing and leave it be.

    Reply
      1. nep

        I don’t know — sounds from OP’s post that it’s in in-between moments, waiting for other colleagues, when people might be chatting about a big football match or anything else. Didn’t sound like the issue was that it’s necessarily disrupting work — just that the OP was bothered by the views being expressed.

        Reply
        1. Elysian

          It shouldn’t take much more than OP being bothered! A rule is probably overdoing it, but there’s no reason OP should have to sit there and listen to divisive political talk. Some topics just aren’t appropriate for the polite company, and politics is one of them. Maybe it doesn’t “harm” anyone, but there are lots of topics that don’t “harm” anyone that we don’t need to talk about at work – I want to hear my coworker’s opinions of certain political figures about as much as I want to hear about what kind of porn they watched last night. Political talk is by and large not just idle chit-chat like sports or TV or the weather.

          Reply
          1. Mike C.

            Discussing porn would be a textbook violation of sexual harassment laws, even in the United States.

            Above I listed several reasons why topics falling under the umbrella of politics have to deal with that workplace. Why do you say otherwise?

            Reply
            1. Elysian

              Discussing porn with another willing coworker in the presence of a third person who doesn’t like it isn’t “textbook” sexual harassment, taken alone. That’s not how harassment works (though it could contribute, based on context and a sum of all the other things, etc etc). That said, entirely separate from whether its legal or not, you still shouldn’t do it at work because its unnecessary and rude and you know other people don’t want to hear it.

              Just because a topic “deals with the workplace” doesn’t mean you have to discuss it there. And it doesn’t sound like that’s what is happening anyway. A politician who wants to raise the minimum wage would certainly have an impact on my job as a minimum wage retail worker, but that still doesn’t mean I have to talk about the politician all the time at work. It doesn’t mean I have to talk about it at every meeting. If you want to have heated debates on important and relevant political topics, go out with your coworkers to happy hour. Those conversations just don’t need to happen while everyone is preparing for the weekly check-in meeting or whatever. Just because something tangentially relates to your job or workplace doesn’t mean you have free reign to talk about it all the time with total disregard for how horrible those conversations are for other people.

              The bottom line is, Don’t deliberately do things that you know will upset other people. Maybe you have a “right” to, whatever that means, and so like I said a rule is overkill, but doing so just because you can only makes you a jerk.

              Reply
              1. Mike C.

                Just because a topic “deals with the workplace” doesn’t mean you have to discuss it there.

                Sometimes it does mean you have to discuss it there. If nothing else, to be ignorant of how politics affects your employer and industry and to go so far as to be upset over it because “it’s politics” is really a bit much.

                I work for a large exporter of capital intensive goods. Having a working knowledge of the Export-Import Bank and the politics surrounding it that lead to it’s temporary non-renewal is highly relevant to my workplace, yet at the same time it’s “politics”. If those discussions never occur or are shut down because “politics” makes someone else upset, then we miss out on a vital piece of the big picture and we miss out on issues that can ripple effects across the company.

                Reply
                1. Apollo Warbucks

                  It seems most likely that the OP isn’t in this situation and that the politics being discussed isn’t related to the job.

    1. Former Retail Manager

      Obviously in the minority here, but I fully agree. From the letter, there is no mention that they are trying to involve you in the conversation so you could presumably just sit quietly and let them chat with each other. (That’s what I do when this sort of talk crops up.) Unless your co-workers are discussing issues that these candidates do and don’t support in such a way that is discriminatory or harassing, I see no problem with simply saying that they like their chosen candidate. I see no difference in this and heated debates about one’s favorite football team or other sports team.

      Also, for what it’s worth, you may want to consider how your request to kibosh the political chitchat could be received by your manager and anyone else who is influential in your workgroup. Making that request clearly says “I don’t agree and you offend me. Shut up” in the most polite way possible which also clearly indicates that you don’t align with their political views. That may not matter in your workplace and I certainly hope it doesn’t, but in some workplaces it does. I have even known people who will claim to align with their superiors political views while at work because to not do so would negatively impact their career. Just a thought and one that I hope isn’t a reality for OP.

      Reply
      1. F.

        Regardless of whether OP#1 agrees or disagrees with management’s views, even making a request that clearly says “I don’t agree and you offend me. Shut up”, no matter how politely delivered, indicates a lack of willingness to get along with others (no matter how distasteful the OP finds their opinions) which will reflect poorly on the OP. The diversity that most companies and many people want in the workplace must encompass more than just the protected aspects under the EEO and ADA regulations. Otherwise it becomes an Orwellian form of superficial diversity in which original thought is suppressed and the “official” viewpoint must always be supported. This invariably leads to stagnation, whether in companies or in countries.

        Reply
      2. Ask a Manager Post author

        Eh, I think it’s pretty normal to say, “hey, would y’all mind cooling it with the political talk?” I don’t think most managers are going to be outraged by that, unless they are already highly unreasonable people.

        Reply
        1. JessaB

          Exactly, there’s a huge difference between “hey let’s cool the politics” in general, and “OMG you offencive horrible terrible person shut UP.” And one is okay and the other is not.

          Reply
          1. Mike B.

            It seems to me that people escalate “what you’re really saying is…” far too quickly when the topic is politics.

            Reply
      3. Sybil Fawlty

        That was my thought as well. I live in a small town in a very red state and expressing an unpopular opinion in this area would have consequences. But I also hope that’s not the case for the OP.

        Reply
    2. Sue Wilson

      I mean, if someone started praising Strom Thurmond’s dedication to anti-federalism (which technically wouldn’t cross those lines Mike C. seems to think are so different from political opinions as though our country wasn’t founded on a hypocrisy of freedom), I would feel extremely harmed and hurt.

      Reply
      1. Mike C.

        Given those views were in support of Jim Crow laws and worse, they would most certainly violate my rule.

        Also, don’t put words in my mouth. I’m not ignorant of these issues.

        Reply
        1. neverjaunty

          But you’re not the Universal Workplace Arbiter of what is, objectively, ‘hate speech’ vs. appropriate political views.

          Reply
            1. neverjaunty

              But you’re presenting your opinion as an objective measure of whether it’s OK or not to offer certain political opinions in the workplace. What is, to you, obviously ‘hate speech’ may be simply a strong personal opinion to somebody else – and What Would Mike C. Think (WWMCT) is not a clear dividing line.

              Reply
        2. Sue Wilson

          Well, actually no, there’s a good political argument, pretextual though it may be in this case (and which is what would make me upset), that not wanting the federal government to mandate or prohibit something does not mean you’re for or against the something prohibited or mandated. Hence my point; you can substitute Thomas Jefferson for Strom Thurmond if you want and the problem is the same. So your rule is already not as clear as you seem to think it is.

          And I didn’t put words in your mouth, as “seems” usually suggests. If you want to appear to me as having a different opinion or not being ignorant, you are always free to say something else that demonstrates that.

          Reply
        3. Mike B.

          OK, how about someone expressing admiration for candidates who vociferously oppose(d) gay marriage? There are plenty of us affected by that, and plenty of those people still running for office today.

          Listening to people discussing politics at length in an election year can often ruin my day by making me incredibly anxious (not a full-on panic attack, but quite upset), because for most of my adult life I’ve known that the composition of SCOTUS would have a serious impact on my rights as a citizen. Is it not reasonable to ask that this one non-work-related topic be kept between people who want to participate, or at least don’t object?

          Reply
          1. Mike C.

            Hold on, I never said that folks should be forced to participate (look up top of the thread) – only that there are plenty of work reasons where it would be perfectly appropriate to discuss political issues. Since then there’s been some clarification as to what exactly was meant by “politics” to narrow it down to horse-race/presidential stuff which makes more sense to contain.

            So to answer your question, it’s perfectly reasonable.

            Reply
  13. Tara R.

    I think people extrapolate the idea of political liberty and freedom of thought/expression/speech way too far. Work isn’t the place for politics. Not everyone is obliged to engage with different viewpoints because it’s someone’s opinion and you have to let them express it. If I’m trying to eat lunch and buddy comes up to me to tell me earnestly that Trump isn’t racist, or if I’m a right-winger chatting with a friend and someone spins around to tell me all the reasons I should be voting for Hillary, I don’t have to listen! There’s this weird sense of entitlement that we must entertain everyone else’s opinions and accept that they have worth and merit and engage with them on a critical level, even when they are directly hurtful to us, and it’s just… Not true. OP doesn’t wanna hear this stuff. Maybe you think it’s reasonable for them to ask not to hear it, maybe you don’t, but I don’t understand the idea that they should, instead, appreciate hearing it. They have zero obligation to listen to people chatting up a political figure they think is abhorrent and try to see things from that perspective.

    Reply
    1. ReadItwithSpanishAccent

      Yes, but people does have also zero obligation to stop praising the politician they like just because OP1 dislikes him/her.

      Reply
      1. Tara R.

        No, they don’t have to stop talking about it, but I find the idea that the OP should listen to it for the sake of listening to it completely baffling. And just because they *can* doesn’t make it less obnoxious to go on political diatribes at work.

        It’s not as though OP wants to be allowed to present their particular political viewpoints and forbid everyone else from talking. They just want a workplace free from excessive political talk, particularly around notably polarizing and controversial figures. That’s not unreasonable at all.

        Reply
        1. fposte

          Well, it’s not unreasonable to want it, but it is, IMHO, unreasonable to try to bind everybody else in your workplace to a rule about your own preferences. All you can do is ask to have your taste considered. Sometimes people just wanted to bitch about Harper in the workplace, right?

          And I don’t think anybody’s saying that she has to listen to it for the sake of listening to it. The closest is Mike C.’s suggestion that engagement (not just silent listening) can actually be rewarding, but he’s not framing it as anybody’s obligation.

          Reply
      2. Colette

        I disagree with this. If the OP asks them to stop the political talk, they should stop – for the same reasons they should stop listening to the radio or painting their nails at their desk. Part of having a job is getting along with others, which means that if someone asks you to stop doing something they find irritating and you can do so while still doing your job, you stop.

        Reply
        1. Mike B.

          +1

          Nobody should be *bound* by the preferences of OP or whoever, but a polite request to not do it in her presence is something that a coworker should honor.

          Reply
      3. get some perspective

        ” but people does have also zero obligation to stop praising the politician”

        Depends what that politicians is saying. If that politician is overtly sexist or racist and they’re being praised for that, that might be against organization policy. Or even the law if it’s blatant and unavoidable.

        Reply
    2. nep

      I wouldn’t argue that someone has to appreciate or give merit to views s/he finds repellent. But looking to govern what others can talk about in casual conversation at work seems a slippery slope to me. It’s a matter of being a grown-up, allowing all views to exist out there, and focusing on the task at hand.

      Reply
      1. Sunshine

        My initial reaction was in agreement with the OP – politics don’t belong in the workplace. But everyone makes good points. In a group of adults, why not? As long as everyone is heard and no one is belittled or otherwise (and the work is getting done, of course)… I guess it’s not a problem. It might be frustrating (or even infuriating to some), but that doesn’t mean it should be shut down.

        Or maybe it’s not appropriate for the workplace. I guess I’m not sure where I stand.

        Reply
        1. Countess Boochie Flagrante

          As far as I’m concerned, it’s not appropriate for the workplace in general.

          Beyond that, particularly in the current election, it seems to me like there is a fairly thin line between talking about certain p0litical figures and the kind of talk that would count toward a hostile workplace claim — though not constituting it per se, of course. Certainly if someone started praising the idea of deporting all Muslims or forcing them to self-identify, that would be part of this presidential race but also concerning for other workers.

          Reply
          1. Mike C.

            Just because a political figure is saying things that are discriminatory to others doesn’t mean that it should be allowed under an environment where political discussions are tolerated. You still have to be respectful to others.

            Reply
            1. Zillah

              But that version of “respect” feels a little lacking to me. I mean, I guess it’s better that people not voice openly discriminatory views in the workplace, but that’s a very low bar.

              Look. If a (theoretical) politician has made sexist positions about women’s role in the home, their access to healthcare, and the existence of sexual assault a very significant part of their platform, I’m going to feel attacked, uncomfortable, and even potentially unsafe if I have to listen to my coworkers praise that politician every day – even if they never actually say “Also, yeah, he’s totes right and women are teh worst.” That would be particularly true if I couldn’t escape the conversation because it was during a meeting.

              Reply
              1. Mike C.

                It’s obviously not on your to have to justify your personal autonomy to your coworkers or deal with the stress and possible danger of having coworkers who don’t respect it even if they’re not saying it specifically.

                I see and agree with your point and I don’t have a good answer for you. Please understand that I’m not brushing you off, it’s just you and Mike B have raised good points and those have complicated things.

                Reply
                1. Zillah

                  No, this answer doesn’t come across as you brushing me off at all. It’s absolutely complicated. Politics are the worst sometimes.

      2. Mreasy

        If you’re in the lunchroom & someone is earnestly praising a political figure you consider to be sexist and racist, and whose proposed policies would lead to internment, deportation, and worse for millions of Americans, you can leave the conversation. If you’re in an “in-between” moment during a work meeting, you cannot. Political talk is not appropriate during these moments of no escape.

        Reply
      3. SystemsLady

        Being a grown-up also means having the maturity not to drag conversations into a political tangent in polite company, distracting the group from the task at hand.

        In a similar box, you have the right to eat your meals privately however you want (or exclusively among company with which you already regularly eat, even if that company is work friends) and not have people bother you for it, but having that right does not make slurping your soup at a business dinner not rude.

        I don’t get the impression OP would have been bothered by hearing offhand (say accidentally overhearing pricate break conversation) that a coworker had a different opinion.

        Being bothered by political talk in an inappropriate context != being bothered somebody has the nerve to have a different viewpoint or something like that.

        Reply
        1. OP #1

          Yes, I don’t care what the talk about anyplace else. I can walk away from that or put on headphones or something. I’m really asking about redirecting these conversations that happen in meetings or training, things that I can’t leave.

          Reply
    3. Mike C.

      I listed a whole bunch of ways that politics directly affects my workplace so I wish folks would quit saying how the two are completely separate. There will be varying degrees of course, but it’s not a blanket issue.

      Reply
      1. RG

        Are y’all talking about the same thing though? It seems to me that you’re talking about situations where people are discussing politics as it relates to their work. OP seemed to imply random discussions, akin to choosing to discuss politics as opposed to one’s children or weekend plans. It could be the former, but the latter was implied.

        Reply
        1. Mike C.

          The thing is, “politics” is a much wider umbrella than many people understand. It’s more than just presidential elections.

          Reply
          1. Kelly L.

            This is true.

            For example…when I was younger, I used to think I could have a romantic relationship with someone who had opposite politics, as long as we just agreed to disagree and didn’t discuss politics much. But gradually I came to realize that people’s politics aren’t separate from their lives. They’re reflections of how they feel about all kinds of things that come up in daily life, things that don’t outwardly seem “political.” It’s not the same as, say, rooting for opposing sports teams (though I know some people who would find that equally a dealbreaker, lol!).

            Reply
          2. Myrin

            But presidential elections is exactly what the OP is talking about, unless there’s going to be some other major political event in the US in 11 months (I’m not in the US so there might as well be). I feel like even though she talks about “a rule of no talking about politics at work” she wouldn’t actually be opposed to discussions of topics that fall under the wider umbrella of politics you’re talking about.

            Reply
            1. Mike C.

              The first sentence in the letter is asking about a ban on all political discussion. Presidential politics is mentioned as an example, but repeatedly in the OP’s letter and in Alison’s response the reference is to politics in general, not just the presidential election.

              If I’m misunderstanding then the OP or Alison are both welcome to correct me.

              Reply
          3. hermit crab

            Right, but I think that, for many people, the word “politics” just refers to things like who’s winning and who’s losing and whose latest shouting match is on the news right now. Personally, I consider work-related political/government issues more like “policy” (or just “work”!) rather than “politics.”

            At my job, we work on federal contracts helping to implement federal programs, and our livelihoods and our contributions to society and all that are directly tied to the federal budget and to government decision-making. So we talk about policy a LOT, all the time. It’s enormously relevant. But we generally don’t talk about politics in the more narrow sense of “let’s gossip about this candidate’s cult of personality” — and I think that’s what “politics” means to a lot of people.

            Reply
            1. Ask a Manager Post author

              Yes, very much. As an example, I used to work for a lobbying group; obviously “politics” is a massive focus there. But people’s personal politics pretty much never came up; the focus was policy, campaigns, and the specific interaction of our work with politics. There was no personal preaching.

              Reply
      2. F.

        Political issues affect every workplace. In the USA, current issues involves many things from raising the minimum wage to adjusting the minimum salary for exempt employees upwards to increasing H-1B visa quotas, etc. Those are issues that have direct effect on employers/employees. Then there are the indirect issues, such as policies regarding the economy, immigration, supporting or opposing tax breaks/funds for certain interest groups, etc. In fact, all unions, large corporations and most professional organizations have a portion of their funds that go directly to lobbying lawmakers regarding policies that are important to their employees’ and members’ interests. It is important to know where political candidates stand on the issues.

        For an employer to try to prevent employees from discussing issues and candidates in the workplace can also be considered illegal under the FLSA regulations protecting speech as regards to working conditions and union efforts (even if the workplace is not unionized).

        Mature adults can and do discuss political candidates and issues all the time in varied venues. If the OP does not like the conversation, then perhaps they can politely and rationally state their views in the conversation. Or if that fails, do what people do around here…..”How about dem Steelers?” ;-)

        Reply
        1. Zillah

          Mature adults can and do discuss political candidates and issues all the time in varied venues. If the OP does not like the conversation, then perhaps they can politely and rationally state their views in the conversation. Or if that fails, do what people do around here…..”How about dem Steelers?” ;-)

          I find the insinuation that people who are uncomfortable with political conversation are less “mature” than those who are to be incredibly offensive. Political issues are contentious for a reason, and some people are vastly more disadvantaged by the status quo and invested in the outcome than others. It’s easy to be rational and detached when it’s a matter or philosophy or principle; it’s much harder when the issue directly affects you, and more often than not, you end up looking bad when you get worked up. If you’re outnumbered, it gets even more exhausting and demoralizing.

          I think that I’m generally a pretty mature person, but I have a very hard time “politely and rationally” talking about certain issues, and I shouldn’t have to navigate that minefield while I’m in a meeting at work.

          Reply
  14. Mrs. Badcrumble

    For OP#1: I get it. It’s really frustrating to sit and listen to people that you have to spend a significant portion of your day with reveal themselves as having really repugnant political beliefs. (My own family drives me bazoo every Christmas — this year it was that Obama was definitely, for sure, really coming for our guns this time). Finding other people’s political beliefs repellant isn’t a sign that your own are fragile, either; I have very strong political beliefs but I believe even more strongly that you shouldn’t give in to the desire to engage in heated discussion at work with coworkers spouting polarizing opinions (it never ends well, it’s like the old saying about mud-wrestling with a pig: you only get dirty and the pig loves it). But you do have to find a way to live with those people and just tuning them out is a lot harder than it seems. I’ve had some luck with derailing some conversations. For example, Bill O’Reilly is never brought up in my house anymore because everytime he is, I bring up his history of workplace sexual harrassment. And my plans for any unpleasant election talk going forward are to gush about my new favorite candidate: Vermin Surpreme (google him, his position on dental hygiene is commendable AND if elected will give everyone a free pony.) If your audience is a little older, you may have some luck reminiscing about Lyndon LaRouche. Either way, you have my sympathies, OP. The only behavior you can ever really control is your own, and you may just need to figure out what works best for you: learning to tune out, working to derail/divert the conversation into something more palatable, or just pretending you’re Jane Goodall observing primate behavior in the wild.

    Reply
    1. F.

      And just to complete the point, other people may find YOUR political opinions just as repugnant. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

      Reply
      1. SystemsLady

        In a similar vein, one is not entitled to deliver one’s political opinions if the other person is not interested in hearing them.

        Not being interested in hearing one’s political opinion does not make the other person wrong, weak, immature, or a censor, particularly if one is not already close to the other person.

        One should not take offense that other people do not care and do not want to hear what one thinks of politics. It’s a topic that so often turns into long, personal rants and arguments that not all people are comfortable sharing or hearing, particularly if they hold a minority view for their area or workplace.

        (Not using one to be snarky, just don’t want to accuse you specifically of thinking any of this)

        Reply
      2. Ms. Anne Thrope

        But they’re not necessarily entitled to express that opinion in certain situations. Especially since so many of the ‘political opinions’ in the US right now involve denying civil rights to huge swaths of the populace. Those opinions have no business being expressed in a work meeting.

        Talking politics is one thing. In America, right now, the election has created madness and hatred of proportions I’ve never seen in my lifetime. If people were espousing any of the divisive [expletive deleted] of certain candidates in a meeting at my job I don’t think I could keep quiet. Then there’d really be a shit-show. People can’t talk about this rationally.

        Reply
        1. KR

          I agree with you here. We can’t ignore here that in this race politics is very focused on discrimination. I think if the OP has to sit there and listen to negative opinions about a certain race, religion or gender than they have the right to speak up and say that the talk is discriminatory and makes them uncomfortable. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but that doesn’t mean that everyone has to listen to it.

          Reply
          1. OP #1

            Yeah, with this candidate I equate liking them to liking their opinions. So, basically this is making my suspicious of my coworkers and their personal biases, and I REALLY don’t like to delve that far into the internal lives of my coworkers.

            Reply
            1. BenAdminGeek

              If it makes you feel better, people often choose their candidate, then talk themselves into why they support them. It’s mostly tribal affiliation (“This person fights for me” vs. “That candidate is bad because he doesn’t like my tribe”). So it may not be quite as bad as you think. We emotionally connect to something, then add intellectual reasons after the fact.

              But of course, the worst folks on both sides are the ones who most like to talk about it at work, and also least likely to respond appropriately to a civil request for quiet.

              Reply
      3. aebhel

        Entitled to their opinion, yes. Entitled to spout it off at work? Well, I don’t think it should be illegal, but I do think it’s in poor taste. Especially since very few of the people who do this are actually inviting a debate (which is how I respond to politics I find distasteful on my own time) and in fact depending on who’s doing the talking, starting a debate may have professional repercussions for the OP.

        Reply
  15. Rubyrose

    #4 – something here really smells. Have you given a written, not just verbal, notice? If not, I would give that immediately. And I would mention that this is a followup to the conversation you had on x day. Any chance this person is keeping it quiet on purpose because they want to cast a bad light on you for not giving a two week notice?

    Reply
    1. JD

      Nope. Notice was written and was actually longer than 2 weeks. I think they are in scramble mode, which is actually very common for this part of the organization. And with every passing day, I feel worse and worse not telling my staff.

      Reply
      1. JMegan

        I would just tell them. Use Alison’s script above, and then go ahead. If she won’t meet with you to have the conversation in person, send her an email, and then go ahead.

        She is acting unreasonably. The request that she be the one to tell your staff, not you, is annoying but not unreasonable in itself. But the fact that she’s dragging her heels on it, and also ignoring your emails, IS unreasonable, and you’re under no obligation to play along.

        Good luck at the new job!

        Reply
        1. Ask a Manager Post author

          The way around this is to just assume that can’t really be the case, since that would be so bizarre. So yes, just announce that you need to tell them today, and then do so.

          Reply
        2. JD

          Yes, I’ve been told to not tell anyone. And the actual quote I heard yesterday when I asked in writing and then as a follow-up in person was: “Not for a while.” What??? Next week is my last week here! What does “not for a while” even mean when you have 7 business days left?

          Reply
          1. Ask a Manager Post author

            The response to that is: “I’m not comfortable delaying any longer since it reflects on me if I don’t give people proper notice. I’m going to let my staff know today.” And then do so.

            Reply
              1. Mike B.

                They could decide that her last day is today rather than next week, so yes.

                I did that once for exactly this reason: someone insisted on sharing the news of her departure before the other managers and I were able to control the message. (I instructed her to hold off on telling anyone and she said “no, they’re going to hear it from me” and marched off to do it; OP is in rather a different situation in which this might be more defensible and the risk worth taking.)

                Reply
                1. C4T!!!

                  ^ This.

                  And count this as the first time I’ve ever 100% disagreed with AAM. Once I give notice, I am no longer the owner of the company needs – only a conduit for how the company decides they want to transition.

                  OK, 99.9% disagree. If it was the second to last day before the last day, THEN I would “Go Rogue” and tell the team. But that might count against me if I am relying on the employer for a reference…

                  YMMV.

                2. Ask a Manager Post author

                  Can I try to persuade you otherwise? The reason I think the OP has standing to decide this is because it’s her reputation that’s at play. If they don’t let her tell people she resigned and she leaves without them knowing (which is what it sounds to me like they’re angling for), she risks people thinking she was fired or left without appropriate notice, which has serious implications for her reputation. Right now, they’re asking her to deceive people about her own plans. She doesn’t have to go along with that if she doesn’t want to.

                  It’s certainly true that they could fire her on the spot for sharing her plans with people. It’s relatively unlikely because it would be such an outrageous thing to do and it would make them look terrible to their remaining employees, but it’s certainly possible. I think it’s worth risking, because I wouldn’t be willing to accept the risk in the first paragraph.

          2. neverjaunty

            Yeah, wow, that’s incredibly sketchy. There is no legitimate reason for ‘don’t tell your staff for a while’.

            Reply
  16. Rebecca

    #1 Since the discussions seem to happen at the end of the meeting, when the actual work is done, could you ask to be excused to go back to work? I’ve done this, when clearly the meeting is over but has devolved into non work related chit chat. I ask respectfully, like, would it be OK if I went back to my desk unless you need input from me for something else? For the chatter at the beginning, maybe strike up a conversation with someone else about a book, the weather, etc. and just tune out the crowd. Or, you could tear out a Soduko puzzle page, bury it in your notepad, and work on it until the call starts. Just some ideas from someone who has suffered through prattle before and after meetings!!

    Reply
    1. DuckDuckMøøse

      I would carry a Read File with me (hardcopy or electronic) of work related articles, or things you need to read for things on your schedule after the meeting. Instead of letting them steal time from you, you can use the time on something productive, yet still have an ear out, in case they circle back around to the meeting topic.

      Reply
      1. OP #1

        Those are really good suggestions, thank you. I’m not comfortable leaving before my manager formally closes the meeting, and we’re in a slow period so no one really has pressing work to get back to.

        Reply
  17. Suzanne

    #1. Good luck. I worked at a place with a similar issue during the 2008 election, with people who were rabidly against the man who is the current president. Every day one man, in particular, would have what I termed his Daily Anti-Obama Rant. My daughter thought I was exaggerating until she had to pick me up from work one day and witnessed it. Anti-liberal politics came up at every staff meeting (along with things like looking at pictures of the manager’s church liturgical paraments & vestments. “Aren’t they beautiful?”) and I had conversations like one co-workers expressing surprise that I got a free coffee at Starbucks with their free coffee for people who voted program. “I’m surprised they gave you a free coffee since you voted Republican.” (Says who? I stayed away from political speech, but it was assumed that anyone with a brain & anyone who worked there would vote GOP).
    My point in telling this story is to let you know you aren’t alone and not silly for letting it bother you. It was very difficult to hear the one-sided political talk every day. I ended up quitting at some point for the horrible atmosphere & other reasons. Hang in there. My guess is by saying something, you’ll just antagonize them.

    Reply
    1. Ad Astra

      Yeah, let me join you in saying that talking politics at work is exceedingly annoying and not a great way to foster a collegial working environment. Some people find it rude to talk about money with people you don’t know very well; I find it rude to talk about politics with people you don’t know very well. Especially in this election cycle, the candidates I happen to not like are also racist, sexist, homophobic loons, so it’s difficult for me to sit quietly and attribute this stuff to a legitimate difference of opinion.

      Should there be a policy against political speech at work? Probably not. But it’s completely reasonable to ask them to cut it out, at least around you.

      Reply
    2. OP #1

      Appreciated, thank you.

      For me, I guess I just like to keep work a neutral place. If I want to discuss emotional, polarizing topics I will do so with my boyfriend, friends, family, or I’ll engage with people on social media. I don’t want to get into these types of discussions with people I have to work with.

      Reply
      1. neverjaunty

        Maybe try framing it as just being So Over the political cycle and 24/7 news about politics, rather than disliking their views per se.

        Reply
      2. nep

        But no one’s ordering you to discuss such things, no?
        I think a lot of people don’t love hearing heavily partisan talk in the workplace, but again — if it’s part of casual conversation that would go on anyway and you simply don’t like the content because it’s against your views, I think best to just tune out and move on.

        Reply
        1. Oryx

          This used to happen all the time at ExJob — Because I never commented I think they always assumed I was on their side and then they started talking about a very sad, very polarizing event that had recently happened in our area and asked my opinion and I just shook my head and said I didn’t want to get involved which clued them in that I am very much *not* on their side and that just made it worse because then they needed to have a BIG DISCUSSION about it and needed to tell me why I was wrong.

          After that, when they started talking about things like that I just removed myself from the lunchroom or wherever we happened to be.

          Reply
        2. Pontoon Pirate

          But again, she’s trapped in a meeting with this conversation. How far do you want her to move on in that context?

          Reply
      1. Suzanne

        Well, in his defense, he was a pastor outside of his regular job and the job was at a religious based institution, but still, I didn’t see how it was relevant to our staff meetings.

        Reply
      2. BenAdminGeek

        Oh man, I love seeing high church stuff! I would totally dig looking at vestments, but I’m weird and into pageantry. So maybe an outlier from the general populace.

        Reply
    3. Business Cat

      I worked in a boutique during the election after where similar feelings were expressed and it was assumed that everyone who worked there was of the same political and spiritual mindset. All the boutique employees stayed late the night of the election to decorate the store for Christmas and I distinctly remember one of my coworkers turning to me while we waited for the results to ask “Did you pray??” (that Mitt Romney would win). I all but snorted.

      Reply
  18. JC

    #3: I like Alison’s suggestion. I went to the interview for the job I have now during pouring rain in rain boots, changed shoes in the lobby, and stashed them with my wet umbrella in the office of the person who met me. I took public transit and there was no other way of doing it without soaking my pants other than taking a cab. It was No Big Deal and I got the job.

    Reply
  19. Diversionary Tactics

    #1: I’ve worked in several places (and volunteered at others) where I’m in the political minority in an election year, and I’ve tried most of the things that have been suggested here. None of them really worked. Try to make a rule about conversational topics in meetings, and you’re Sally Who Hates the First Amendment. Express your own personal discomfort with talking politics at the office, and you’re Oversensitive Sally Who We Have To Shut Up Around. Here’s the only thing that’s worked for me: Changing the subject back to work.

    So Jane says, “Candidate A has no experience running a country!” You say, “Hey, speaking of running, that reminds me: Server 1 has been running a batch for, like, three days now. Anybody know what’s going on there?” Fergus says, “Candidate B wants to take my cupcakes away!” You say, “Oh, hey, quickly, before Client picks up–does anybody have a copy of the agenda for this conference call? I seem to have left mine on my desk. Oh, thanks, I have a question about agenda item #1.” Or: “No? Oh, well then, I’ll go get it. Won’t be a minute.” (I like this one because it combines Changing the Subject with Extracting Myself, which has been my other go-to in this situation.)

    Yes, your co-workers will realize what you’re doing. The point is not to be subtle; it’s to signal that you want to talk about something else, preferably something work-related. And you have to do it to both sides. They WILL get the point. You might still be Oversensitive Sally Who We Have To Shut Up Around, but honestly, that’s better than having to sit there biting your tongue until November (and possibly beyond).

    Alternatively, next time it happens in a meeting you can look at the clock and say, “Hey, folks, I need to get a report out by 3, can we get back on track with what we’re here to talk about, or are we done?” Which is really the point, whether the off-topic conversation is about politics or TV or, in one place where I worked, excruciating play-by-plays of the previous Friday night’s high-school football game.

    Reply
      1. OfficePrincess

        Right, but since it sounds like OP’s issue is that the politics being discussed don’t affect work other than being an off-topic distraction, these are certainly valid things to try. Some workplaces are affected by political decisions and others generally aren’t.

        Reply
      2. A Non E. Mouse

        “Again, this doesn’t work with the political issue being discussed actually affects work.”

        I hear you on this – but most work places, it doesn’t actually effect work to the degree it would need to be discussed on a regular basis.

        For example, around the time of the Affordable Care Act going into effect, there were (rightfully so) discussions on how this would affect our then-current benefits, our profit margin (our company is self-insured), etc. Political views were expressed at that time, but since then? No. The ACA literally has nothing to do with the servers we are bringing live today.

        Off the top of my head, I cannot think of any meeting I’ve been in since that time where politics would have been an “on-topic” waiting-time filler. Since that’s the case here, “no religion or politics” is pretty closely observed.

        Reply
      3. neverjaunty

        Which has absolutely nothing to do with this comment. Yes, your workplace is one where political issues can be crucial. Mine is too. But I think we can both see the difference between “Candidate X’s new program is going to make it hard for us to get deliverables out” and “Candidate X is going to send us all into re-education camps!”

        Reply
      4. Ask a Manager Post author

        But, Mike, that’s not the situation being discussed here, so I think to a certain extent it’s derailing the conversation. The OP is asking about people discussing their feelings on presidential candidates, not policy.

        Reply
        1. Mike C.

          It’s a little difficult untying the two when my employer specifically came up for several minutes in a presidential debate last week, but I take your greater point.

          Reply
      5. asteramella

        There’s a difference between idle chitchat about politicians and discussion of concrete ways in which specific politics intersect with your work. I work in an industry that was turned inside out by the Affordable Care Act and I discuss the ACA (and Congress’s attempts to repeal it, birth control coverage exemptions, abortion coverage, and other controversial topics) on a daily basis. Saying “this segment of our business may be affected in X way if Bill 123 passes” or “because of the current political climate, we can expect increased regulation on Y and Z” is a lot different than “Obama threw the Constitution out the window just to make some freeloaders happy” (a real comment that was really said to me on a conference call during which I was talking calmly about King v. Burwell’s potential effect on a portion of our business).

        Reply
        1. Mike B.

          +1

          I’m in pharma, so I know exactly what you’re talking about–the outcomes of the last few elections have been critically important to the shape of my industry. But we’ve generally found it possible to talk about the ACA without getting into horserace analysis or the merits of one candidate versus another.

          Reply
        2. Dr. Johnny Fever

          Another industry with federal regulations – we receive political communications on bills that favor our company, rallys for all candidates, PACs to support, upcoming policy impacts, and other regulatory impacts.

          The presidential cycle is hard to ignore, and it’s everywhere. One has to learn to tune out background noise by will or by other tasks. In my case, my personal beliefs don’t align perfectly with corporate beliefs, so I’m almost always the odd one out.

          There is a huge distinction in the rhetoric between the mails I receive and the talk I overhear, and the talk more closely matches what the OP describes. Personally, I find those who express loud proclamations of any side to be boorish and rude – low emotional intelligence to assume everyone thinks like that person. I’ve been avoiding the break room for 2 days with the Palin announcement. I mean, I love Bernie but I haven’t stuck my sticker to my laptop or asked my coworkers if they feel the Bern. That doesn’t belong.

          Overall, it’s unfortunate but OP cannot change or control the behavior of her coworkers. She can ask nicely and they stop and they may not. OP can look for ways to tune out (like the Sudoku idea, or scan through RSS feeds on the cell phone, etc). during the discussion.

          Reply
    1. Ann Furthermore

      I think this is probably the best way to go. This and tuning it out, or wearing headphones, or just nodding and smiling and then going about your day. People are touchy about politics, and the aftermath of trying to ask them to curb their discussions in any way may actually end up worse than listening to the original discussions/rantings.

      I did hear about someone getting shot down in a classic way once. A contractor worked for us who was very politically conservative. He got all fired up one morning by some article he read and started ranting about Islam being a religion of terrorists. My co-worker from Syria, who is Muslim, obviously didn’t appreciate that and said, “Hey. Do you mind?” Contractor said “Well I wasn’t talking about you.” Co-worker said, “Actually, you kind of were.” They both went back to their desks and things were very tense for a few hours.

      Then Co-worker gets up to go to lunch, stops by Contractor’s desk, and says, “Hey, Contractor, I’m going out to run a few errands and grab something to eat. I’m also going to pick up a new turban. Would you like me to get one for you too?”

      My co-worker told me about this and we laughed and laughed. I would have paid money to see that guy’s reaction.

      Reply
      1. Poohbear McGriddles

        I like the way your co-worker handled that. He politely engaged the contractor, rather than running away to file a complaint, and put a face and name to the “otherness”. Maybe it had an impact on how that guy saw people like your co-worker.

        Reply
        1. Ann Furthermore

          Maybe it did. In the moment though, that contractor was completely nonplussed and had no response at all. Which for that guy was a rarity.

          That co-worker no longer works for my company, and I really miss him. Super nice guy, great at his job, and he had a wicked sense of humor. We were cube neighbors for about a year, and he was always making me laugh.

          Reply
    2. Charityb

      I like this approach, though honestly — I think interrupting a side conversation in a meeting to steer it towards something work-related (when the side conversation is just because people are waiting for the meeting to start) is about as hard as just saying, ‘Hey, don’t talk about politics around me’. I’m not sure if someone who is deeply uncomfortable with just saying that would be assertive enough to interrupt/derail another speaker in a conversation. Either approach sounds like it would work but they both rely on someone wanting to speak up.

      Reply
    3. KR

      My favorite thing to say when someone starts spewing political opinions at me is, “I understand that must be very upsetting to you.” or “I hear you.” I particularly like the second one because it tells the person I’m listening and I understand what they’re saying, but I’m not necessarily giving my approval.

      Reply
    4. OP #1

      Thanks for these, I’ll probably try your “Changing the Subject with Extracting Myself” technique if I can. I’m trying to figure out a way not to be obvious about my opinions of specific candidates, because of their strong feelings, but generally figure out a way to drag conversations away from politics in general. This is so contrary to my nature, I wish I was better at tuning out.

      Reply
  20. Allison

    OP #1, I get it. We all have freedom of speech in the good ol’ U S of A, but politics is one of those subjects people shouldn’t be discussing at work unless you work IN politics or there’s a political issue that impacts your industry. If I was always hearing my coworkers gush about how great Trump is, or how ugly Clinton is, I’d feel uncomfortable too! It’s not something you can really do anything about, except change the subject or maybe suggest “this may not be the best time to talk about that,” but a rule about political discussion is never going to go over well.

    Reply
  21. TotesMaGoats

    #1-I’m pretty sure that someone you work with finds whoever you happen to support repugnant. It’s kind of how it works in the world, opinions being what they are. There are some great suggestions on how to redirect conversations or find ways out of them. I would use those. I’m a little sad that I now work somewhere that so very much leans in one direction that I don’t feel comfortable joining the political conversations. My last job we had lively debates on politics from all angles. It was great. Everyone felt comfortable sharing from their view points and we were still friends and colleagues. It’s entirely possible for people from all points on the political spectrum to have casual conversation at work about political issues.

    I would say that suggesting any sort of rule or policy is not going to be a good thing for you to do.

    Reply
  22. On a Road to Nowhere

    Had one manager leave a ‘helpful voting guide’ on my desk that was totally the opposite of my personal views. I laughed and asked whose joke this was to leave that, then was told the manager did. Oopsy. (he was nearby)

    Reply
    1. OP #1

      The way the last conversations started up was that we were giving presentations, and manager brought up awful politician as a great example of engaging audiences, as opposed to us. There is no possible way I did not look horrified getting that feedback.

      Reply
      1. Case of the Mondays

        I think there is something to be said for recognizing where people are successful even if you despise them. I did a work training once where we were given negative scenarios/people to find the positives. It was about speaking to people’s strengths. One scenario was Hitler and I think we’d all agree as vile as he was, he was strong and long term planning, strategy, leadership and influencing others.

        There is a candidate whose politics I strongly dislike but I marvel at his ability to get people excited and following him, despite whatever ridiculous thing he says. I don’t think it is unfair suggestion to say look at HOW he speaks (not what he says) and try to emulate some of that.

        Reply
    2. Hlyssande

      Gross.

      In 2008 there was a letter posted on our internal site from one of the Dudez In Charge ™ urging us to vote for the guy who didn’t win because blah blah affecting business blah blah that guy is terrible blah blah racist dogwhistles blah. It was all in fairly polite wording but so, so gross. I still wish I’d saved a copy.

      Reply
    3. Turanga Leela

      That sounds like a relatively minor oopsy—it was probably good for the manager to realize that that wasn’t welcome or helpful.

      Reply
    4. Faith

      I’m sure we’re on the opposite ends of the spectrum here, but such things can be very useful. If I haven’t read anything about some of the local races, I go to the opposition non-profs and check their guides so I can vote for the opposite.

      Reply
      1. neverjaunty

        Regardless of how useful the guide is, a manager leaving a how-you-should-vote pamphlet on a subordinate’s chair is really inappropriate.

        Reply
  23. Jwal

    This reminds me of the letter writer who had panic attacks when people talked about politics (I think I’m remembering that correctly. Was there ever an update on how that panned out?

    Reply
  24. Not Karen

    #2: At this point, I’m not even convinced that YOU believe this is possible. Look at your language: “I had an idea that I can see if I can handle the responsibilities for one of the new positions (in addition to my current role). If that is possible…”

    If you’re not even convinced you can do it, how do you expect to convince anyone else? The way you prove you can do two things at once is by demonstrating how you are already doing two things at once, not by asking for a chance to see whether or not you can at someone else’s expense.

    Reply
  25. B

    #3 – Also bring a plastic bag to put the boots in first before putting in the tote bag so it catches all of the water and doesn’t ruin your bag. I have done what Alison mentioned of putting them in a large tote bag and that plastic bag has save me numerous times, same when it has been raining.

    Reply
  26. NHNonprofit

    #3 – Echoing many other commenters, if it’s a place where it snows a lot, most interviewers will not *ding* you for wearing appropriate footwear. I live in Northern New England where casual dress is more accepted in business, but my office dress code still forbids denim or business casual. For most of the winter I wear a pair of Santana Canada leather boots with a 2-3-inch heel, grippy sole and Thinsulate lining. These work under dress pants, with dresses, and can get me through the worst sidewalks safely. Good luck!

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  27. S.I. Newhouse

    #2: I’d tread really carefully with this. In a *best* case scenario, I’m imagining your salary will be increased by more like 5% and you’ll end up with twice the amount of work or more. And as a previous commenter mentioned, it might set a bad precedent as far as your employer’s willingness to hire additional employees when needed.

    #3: I personally think it’s fine to either wear a classy pair of tall leather boots to the interview, or if it’s really awful outside, to just keep your snow boots on. Interviewing is a nerve-wracking-enough situation without adding moving parts to the interview, such as changing in a bathroom or hoping there’s a closet. I can’t imagine an employer not understanding, considering they had to travel in the same weather, and from my experience on the other side of the interviewing table, I personally couldn’t care less what kind of shoes the person is wearing (unless it’s something like stilettos with a 3- or 4-inch heel, which someone did come to an interview wearing once).

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  28. Jerzy

    Regarding #3 – In addition to the concern of where to store slush-covered boots, I’m often more worried about what I do about salt getting on to my pants, boots or no. I know it’s something everyone has to battle if you’re in a snowy state, but it certainly takes away from the polished “you” you’re trying to present in interviews.

    Reply
  29. Cucumberzucchini

    As a person who aligns with a “third-party” platform, by and large I’m in disagreement over the majority of people’s politics. I enjoy debating, it’s fun but people get so worked up it doesn’t really foster good relationships. So I typically try not to discuss politics at all. Not on Facebook, no at work, not with friends. I have no issue with people I like having vastly different politic views from mine, I think they’re wrong but that doesn’t change my liking them. However it doesn’t seem like a two-way street so I’d just rather not get into it to preserve the relationship.

    Normally the most I’ll do is point out rather obvious factual inaccuracies or ask questions designed to point out logical fallacies. But not too often.

    Not too long ago, I was at a company were the owners were on the extreme of their wing of politics. I did a lot of smiling and nodding. On the inside I thought it was terrible but I wanted to keep my job and maintain collegial working relationships so I just smiled and nodded. There was no way, no how I’d ever change their minds, so nothing good could have come from engaging.

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  30. Sunflower

    #3- I would not worry about this at all. It’s VERY rare if you’re going to an office where most people walk or take public transportation that anyone would think about your footwear. I would usually change my shoes in the lobby of the building or once I got in the office, ask reception where the restroom was and change in there. I don’t even think you need to worry about stashing the boots in a professional tote. I think a reusable shopping bag is fine. You can ask to leave them at reception but if that’s not possible, I don’t think your interviewer would even blink if you brought them back with you. I would just joke ”sorry for all my baggage, the streets are terrible!’

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  31. Lanya

    #2 – I successfully combined two jobs into one, so I know it can be done, but be ready to negotiate salary. In my case, the managers saw my suggestion primarily as a way to save money, and only offered a $4,000 raise to take on the tasks of a second full-time job. So…I had to do a little negotiating…but eventually we agreed on a fair salary, and I enjoyed my expanded position for 3.5 years until I left the company for other reasons.

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  32. lady of the north

    Here’s a twist on the snow boots question. Next week I have an all-day interview in the frozen north of the US. Complicating factors:

    1) Interview starts with breakfast at 8 AM, ends with dinner at 6:30, there is almost certainly movement between buildings during the day, and cloakrooms in most buildings are unlikely, plus asking where to put things could get time-consuming given that I’m scheduled in half hour blocks most of the day.
    2) Attire is definitely a suit (and mine is a skirt suit). Going more casual would be looked down upon. My winter boots are big, bulky, and furry on top.
    3) I also have to carry around a breast pump. I *may* be able to fit the other materials I need for the day (folder, notepad, pens, phone, lipstick, etc.) into the pump bag, but last time I had one of these interviews I wound up carrying two bags all day.

    I haven’t actually decided how to handle it yet, I guess I’m just hoping against hope there will be no snow?

    Reply
    1. Mike B.

      Just wear the boots.

      I try to weigh the value of the time I’ve spent worrying about any given thing against the importance of the thing itself. Whether your footwear matches your outfit is utterly unimportant, unless you happen to be so desperate for a job that you would be willing to work for a manager who deducts points for not wearing dress shoes in the snow. You’re wasting valuable minutes of your life just thinking about it; just make the practical decision and move on. Make a joke about it if you like.

      Reply
  33. OP #5

    Im the OP for #5. I told the recruiter about my raise in advance. I was offered the job on the spot at $X-$2. We are currently negotiating and I hope to hear back soon. I will update then! Cost of living is noticeably higher in the new city but not a huge difference like Midwest to say, NYC, would be. Prob $1k more for an increase in rent and daycare.

    Reply

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