how to deal with a coworker in a small office who forces loud political rants on me

A reader writes:

My colleague, “Lisa,” and I are the sole employees in a small designer showroom. There is a repair shop next door where our manager and other coworkers are. Most of the time, it’s just Lisa and I. I like her a lot. She’s very experienced and knowledgeable, and I’m grateful to her for sharing her knowledge. We’re in sales, so we’re chatty and get along well on a friendly level.

The problem is that Lisa is extremely vocal about her political views, and it’s a subject that comes up often. I don’t always agree with what she says, but she’s very passionate and gets herself worked up when she talks about it. She even talks a bit louder when on her soapbox. I don’t want a conflict, nor do I want to talk about my own political beliefs too much. She’s the type of person who, when incensed, rather enjoys starting an argument. I’m the opposite. I try to diffuse it with diplomacy and subtly changing the subject, as I’ve done in the past when this has come up. It doesn’t always work with Lisa.

What’s the best way to deal with this? I don’t want her to be offended, but I’m also tired of the political rants! She laid into me pretty good when I said I couldn’t vote for the candidate she supports.

I’ve tried to tell her several times that I don’t want to discuss politics at work, but the answer is always fairly defensive and something like “Well, you need to be informed. You can’t just put your head in the sand! These people are ruining our country!”

You might normally like Lisa, but in this situation she’s being a jerk. It’s rude to force political discussions on someone who has asked you to stop. And “I don’t want to talk politics” doesn’t mean “I intend to be uninformed and put my head in the sand”; it means “I don’t want to discuss this with you/at this time/in this context,” and it’s fairly disingenuous/obnoxious of her to pretend otherwise.

The way to get this to stop is to hold firm and not let her badger you into a conversation you don’t want to have. For example:

You: “Lisa, I don’t want to discuss politics at work. Please don’t continue to try to draw me into political discussions.”
Lisa: “You need to be informed. You can’t just put your head in the sand when the fate of our international rice sculpture treaty is at stake!”
You: “I consider myself well informed but I don’t want to discuss politics at work, so please stop. Can you do that?” (You could even skip the “I consider myself well informed” if you don’t want to put that up for discussion.)
Lisa: “These issues are too important to stay silent blah blah blah.”
You: “I am not willing to discuss this with you. Please stop. Anyway, have you seen the sales reports for last week?”

If it continues after that, say this: “I’ve told you I don’t want to have this discussion. Can we talk about something else, or should I move to a different area of the store?” And then if she continues, you say, “Okay, I’m going to go dust the teapots near the front. See you later.” And you walk away.

If you feel rude about doing this — and you might, because when you’re a generally nice, polite person, it can feel jarring to draw such a hard conversational line with someone —  keep reminding yourself that she is the one being rude by forcing conversations on you that you’ve clearly asked her to stop. Polite people will be willing to stop the first time you make that request. If she refuses to respect what you’ve asked, that’s on her, not on you, and polite society supports you in enforcing a boundary and leaving the conversation.

Read an update to this letter here.

{ 250 comments… read them below }

  1. Katie F*

    Yikes, that IS rude. Yeah, repetition is going to be your friend here. I get that the confrontation of it is going to be uncomfortable, but if you really want Lisa to stop, you’re going to have to ask her to stop very forthrightly, without equivocation, and then stick to your guns. She’ll get the hint, but you might deal with some resentment over it.

    1. INTP*

      Agree. If Lisa is the type of individual with the type of views that I suspect, there is literally no way to convince her that you have a valid reason to not discuss politics with her and convince her to stop out of respect for that reason or for your feelings. Anything you do besides listen to her views and then agree with them will be being “too politically correct,” “too sensitive,” “sticking your head in the sand,” etc. So getting her to stop WILL require some kind of confrontation at some point – reminding myself that a confrontation will have to happen at some point and that it might as well be sooner rather than later helps me stick to my guns for an uncomfortable conversation. Think of it like ripping off a bandaid.

      1. Rat in the Sugar*

        I don’t think we should be guessing about what type of views Lisa has; it doesn’t really matter whether she’s left, right, center, or out of the ballpark entirely.

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          I agree. There’s people who just won’t shut up about every little thing of every political stripe, and, ultimately, it doesn’t matter. I think our election season is just too long and there’s constant stuff happening that seems designed to make all of our blood pressures hit the roof — in addition to all the news that is actually ongoing news that actually matters — so this just gets exhausting.

          Personally, I think I need to give myself a news moratorium except reading one paper (on paper) for half an hour every day for my own mental health and I’ve stopped introducing news topics to most of my friends because I don’t want to add to any fatigue *they* might have. This includes two friends in the UK with respect to Brexit and their other recent political upheavals.

          1. the gold digger*

            There’s people who just won’t shut up about every little thing of every political stripe

            I had to block my husband on facebook a few years ago. I didn’t want to see his political posts. Now he has a separate “political friends” group, but he still talks about politics at home. Oh well.

            1. Educated enough thanks.*

              Omg my husband too. Number one negative issue in our relationship right now. Not necessarily because our politics are different but because ALL he wants to do is talk about it and “educate me”. *eyeroll*

          2. Blurgle*

            People who bombard me with American politics get in return photos of Justin Trudeau with his shirt off.

            1. Barefoot Librarian*

              I’m so all about some shirtless Trudeau! That’s my kind of political statement.

            2. Blurgle*

              Maybe I should change to Stephen Harper, but the recent article in the Beaverton makes that problematic.

        2. paul*

          Yep. I’ve run into people like that on several points along the spectrum; my mom has tendencies in that area and she’s pretty far left for instance.

          It’s like…look, I may agree with you but holy crap, I get tired of politics ya know?!

          1. Whats In A Name*

            Agree +10,000. Even if I agree I don’t always want to talk about it.

            About 10 years ago I got so fed up I sent a mass email to every single person in my address book asking them politely to leave me off their political email list – regardless of their views. Even the people on the same side of the line as me just go too far. This was before Facebook, though. Now I just stare wide eyed and block my family and friends so I don’t alienate them all. Even the ones who support the same candidates as me make me want to throw my computer across the room sometimes.

            *PS: this comment may show up somewhere else, I don’t know if it got set to moderation or I accidentally deleted it

        3. Whats In A Name*

          I agree. Sometimes I just want to NOT talk politics, even if we agree.

          About 10 years ago I sent a mass email to every single person in my address book asking them politely to leave me off their political email list – regardless of their views. Even the people on the same side of the line as me just go too far.

          This was before Facebook, though. Now I just read and think “no wonder everyone thinks our party is idiots, stop getting your news from meme’s and sharing them” Then I hide their posts so I don’t end up disliking all my friends and family.

      2. MoinMoin*

        Actually, I was going to commend the OP on a very objective and well-written letter. I mentally read her letter inputting both DJT and HRC (and Corolianus Snow, for funsies) as the candidate in question and felt like they could equally be the subject based on the evenness of the letter.
        Of course, I also have a preference as to who the “bad” one in question is….

        1. Kelly L.*

          Me too! I thought it was remarkably nonpartisan.

          (Now, if someone wanted to bash Jon Snow to me, them’s fighting words. LOL)

        2. INTP*

          I thought the letter was very objective, the particular phrasings just echoed what I’ve heard the obnoxious members of one party say more so than the obnoxious members of the other party.

          I could be wrong, obviously, but I do think my point works either way. There is not going to be any way to convince a person this obnoxious and evangelical about their politics that you have a valid, respect-worthy reason to not discuss politics with them, whether they think your resistance to listening is because you’re too politically correct or bigoted or you have your head in the sand about how the Flying Purple People Eater is rigging elections by putting subliminal messages on the ballot screens, and they’re going to force some kind of conflict unless you listen to their views and agree with them.

            1. The Politically Fatigued OP*

              OP here… I’m really more of a Flying Spaghetti Monster kind of girl, but I totally respect the Flying Purple People Eater. His stance on cannibalism goes against my beliefs, but he’s an interesting guy over all.

        3. Blue Anne*

          Me too. I think this letter is very objectively written – I read it the exact same way. I don’t think there’s anything to be gained by speculating on the person’s views.

        4. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

          Yeah, agreed. The OP did a really good job at keeping the letter completely neutral.

        5. Turtle Candle*

          I agree, I thought it was written very even-handedly; I could see this being written about someone on either “side” (or really any “side,” since it’s not as simple as two). I think that was very wise; it will hopefully keep the discussion from derailing too far into “but who’s right?”, which is beside the point when the LW doesn’t want to discuss it at all.

          (I also like it because I have found this problem deeply obnoxious even from people who I agree with politically. Sometimes I need a break from politics even with people I agree with completely.)

        6. The Politically Fatigued OP*

          OP here… Thank you! I felt like the beliefs on either side were irrelevant. People have strong opinions on both ends of the spectrum, and which party or candidate didn’t really matter.

      3. Mookie*

        I think I disagree with almost everyone above in that while I commend the OP for sticking to the facts and not getting side-lined by the content of Lisa’s “fun” “political” “monologues,” I’m also pretty confident Lisa’s not complaining about political correctness. Anyway, as everyone else says, it’s moot because the advice stays the same; whether the OP disagrees or agrees with Lisa in any other context, Lisa’s being a prig here and needs telling.

        1. Vendrus*

          Opinions on which side Lisa is likely to be is probably going to be down to personal experience! (Mine definitely sounds different to yours)

    2. The Politically Fatigued OP*

      OP here… You’re totally right. I’m pretty laid back and non-confrontational, but I know I’m going to have to address this in a very direct way. Totally gives me anxiety!

  2. Gene*

    And if she follows you to the dusting to continue her harangue, break out the boat horn or whistle and give her a blast to the face. Repeat PRN. She’ll stop.

    1. Lily in NYC*

      Oooh, she should start ringing the Shame Bell like on Game of Thrones! We do that to each other when someone makes a dumb mistake in a powerpoint (all in good fun).

  3. Stuck*

    This is also my life right now, however the ranter is my boss, who is also the business owner. I don’t feel like I can ask him to stop, so I just change the subject. He can get pretty worked up about it.

    1. neverjaunty*

      What about something like “Boss, I’m kind of suffering from politics fatigue. Can we discuss something else?”

      1. Turtle Candle*

        I like this. It makes the problem about “I am so tired of hearing about this from every angle all day and I’d consider it a favor if you’d give me a break,” not about “you’re wrong.”

      2. The Politically Fatigued OP*

        OP here! This is how I think I might approach it initially, and see if she takes the hint. After which, I may need to be more direct and assertive, but not in a mean way.

    2. Stranger than fiction*

      How about a lighthearted comment like “gee Boss, I guess your mom never told you not to discuss religion or politics”

      1. Coco*

        I’ve found people react pretty negatively to that. It’s a little too close to saying “You were raised wrong” or “You are a rude person.” Instead I’d center it on the speaker, not the boss, e.g. “I always feel strange talking about this kind of thing at work. You know what they say about religion and politics…”

    3. Anon for this*

      Are you me? In my case, they are two managers, and they talk amongst themselves, in one of the two managers’ office, which happens to be directly next to where I sit. Their political views are the direct opposite of mine. I respect their right to support what they support, I just don’t want to hear about it at work!!! and I cannot say anything. Today, I walked into the office to a loud “there will be plenty of idiots who’ll vote for” (the candidate I’m voting for). Thank god I’d already had my coffee by then!!! I have no idea how to make this stop. I’d love it if they kept the door closed during these chats, but I feel that there is no way I can ask. I cannot change the subject, because they’re not talking to me. I don’t know what to do. They are amazing people and managers, it’s just this one little quirk which only affects the two or three people who sit within earshot (myself included).

      Ugh, on a more general note, I wish we each had our own desert island where we could disappear for the entire election year and come back when it all blows over. And vote by mail, of course. I’m nothing if not a responsible citizen. I just don’t want to be IMMERSED in this stuff for twelve months every four years.

    4. Anon for this*

      Do you work for my boss? He’s always starting political discussions. He would deliberately start debates with me about stuff we disagree on. The worst part is we agree on a few issues and I absolutely can’t understand how he could support the candidate he did. I finally asked him directly to stop sending me political stuff after he sent a (well intentioned) link to something I found very upsetting. Thankfully he’s respected that.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      My friend just went through a similar thing with her boss. But she told her boss that getting upset like that was not good for his health. She was able to point to a couple of recent issues and tell him that he needed to be careful of how much of this stuff he spent time on. Upset will only make a person sicker not better, she said. She also pointed out that anything that distracts him from a business focus isn’t good for the business, either.

    6. Unegen*

      Ugh. I have a coworker like that…and I’ve worked with him for 8 years. It’s gotten to the point that I realize he won’t stop. I’ve come to realize he’s like a wind-up toy: a statement or bit of information winds him up, and off he goes. Except the longer he goes, the more likely he is to go into tinfoil hat territory and start spouting conspiracy theories. So I just give him a statement or bit of info to work with and see how far into wackadoo land I can get him to go. My personal goal is to have him ranting about Our Reptilian Overlords by Christmas.

      1. Anon for this*

        I had a coworker that you could not say the word “taxes” around. He’d take it as an invitation to go on a rant about how we pay too much, the IRS should be abolished, yada yada yada. Team meetings in March and April were a bit difficult with that guy present. As soon as someone would say something like “How was your weekend?” – “Not bad, did my taxes…” – he’d go off.

  4. TootsNYC*

    I think this might be a time to use the cut-and-paste technique.

    Pick a sentence, and then use ONLY those words (well, OK, you can add the word “nevertheless”). No matter what she says or where else she tries to take the argument.

    “Lisa, I really don’t want to discuss or listen to politics at work.”
    HER: But you need to be informed! The future of our country is at stake!
    YOU: “I really don’t want to discuss or listen to politics at work.”
    HER: You’re not a good person because you don’t care about our country!
    YOU: “I really don’t want to discuss or listen to politics at work.”
    HER: I’m going to complain to our boss that you’re rude.
    YOU: “I really don’t want to discuss or listen to politics at work.”
    HER: But you need to know about an issue!
    YOU: “I really don’t want to discuss or listen to politics at work.”

    See what I mean? No matter where she goes.

    You can add, perhaps: “Nevertheless, “I really don’t want to discuss or listen to politics at work.”
    Or even just respond with one word: “Nevertheless.” (Note that period? This is a full sentence, so pronounce it as one, firmly and declaratively.)

    Don’t go anywhere else. Don’t say, “I’m not the only person who doesn’t like to talk about politics at work.”
    Don’t say, “It’s a recognized standard of behavior, to not talk about..”
    Don’t say, “I do too care about our country!”

    Don’t say anything except, “I don’t want to….”

    Stay even in tone, for most of the time, though if it goes on too long, you can sound a little “patient.”

    1. Trillian*

      Back in the day, also known as the broken record technique. Can be very effective, delivered in a consistent tone.

      I’d be tempted to start singing the Arrogant Worms’ “Don’t go into politics”.

    2. Lemon Zinger*

      That’s how toddlers should be treated when they whine about things. And it’s perfect for Lisa too!

    3. Adam*

      Yep. Lisa sounds a touch self-righteous in her political opinions, which in a certain mindset some people can find fun hence why they keep doing it. Nothing takes the fun out of that circumstance like refusing to engage one way or the other.

      1. KG, Ph.D.*

        When I was young and foolish, I was a tad bit (okay, maybe a LOT) obnoxious about my political views. What eventually stopped me was realizing that people were just not interested in engaging. They either stayed silent or made a comment about how they don’t like to discuss politics. Eventually, I got it. Heck, now I’m the person saying, “I don’t like to discuss politics.”

    4. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

      My staff call this “calm repeating” when it do it. It’s funny to me that they noticed the pattern – I don’t even think I was aware of it. I don’t use the exact same words, but I just calmly and patiently repeat myself. Apparently, they understand that I’m using it to signal that my response is complete and final, which I guess it is!

      1. Rana*

        That sounds like me engaging with my preschooler when she’s fixated on something but not really processing my answers. Sometimes, it’s really all you can do. “What’s Mama doing?” “I’m making breakfast.” “What are you doing, Mama?” “I’m making breakfast.” “Need to eeeeeaaaat!” “I’m making breakfast.”

    5. neverjaunty*

      Exactly. “Nevertheless” is also great after the first iteration, because it says “I hear what you are saying to me, and regardless of whether or not you are right, I am still not changing my mind.”

    6. Rusty Shackelford*

      And if it’s impossible for you to let “you need to be informed” or “you’re not a good person” or “you’re obviously unaware of the facts” slip by unchecked, you could add “You’re making such interesting assumptions about me.”

      You need to be informed! The future of our country is at stake!
      You’re making such interesting assumptions about me. I don’t want to discuss politics at work.

      I can’t believe you’re going to sit there with your head in the sand!
      You’re making such interesting assumptions about me. I don’t want to discuss politics at work.


    7. AstroDeco*

      Calm broken record.
      Love this.
      Also love Rusty’s suggestion of “You’re making such interesting assumptions about me.”

    8. Newby*

      My sister has a similar statagy except she never wants to discuss politics in any situation so her answer is always “I don’t care” on repeat.

    9. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I used roughly this technique on my great-uncle the other week. He knows his views are opposite to mine and likes to try to rile me up. I said, “Uncle J, we both know we disagree, and I’m not going to talk about politics with you.”

      “But X, Y, Z and you know it’s true that–”

      “I’m not going to talk politics with you.”

      “Well, A and B and C.”

      “I’m just going to stop talking.”

      “Well one more point.”

      (I’m just quiet. Then he’s quiet.)

      Me: “Do you want to see photos of how we’ve been fixing up our backyard?”

      “…Yeah, did you get those thornbushes out?”

    10. Anion*

      Repetitions of “I don’t care to discuss it,” in a calm but definite tone, have stood me in good stead my entire life. (It’s an excellent tool for shutting down pushy suitors, as well as being useful for many other purposes.)

  5. DM*

    Ah, yes, if there were an unfollow option in real life, as I’ve had to use that feature on Facebook (even for family)…at least until elections are over. Just don’t engage. Stick with, “I don’t wish to discuss politics.”

    1. paul*

      Yep. I don’t mind politics on Facebook as such, but when you’re posting 4-5x a day about politics I just quit caring.

    2. Apollo Warbucks*

      Or you know how you can check a YouTube video to see how much longer its got left, I wish they had that for people so you could see how much longer they were going to talk for.

      1. Daisy Steiner*

        I love when Tim Beesly in Spaced deploys “Skip to the end” almost as soon as Daisy opens her mouth. Cruel but effective :)

    1. Is It Performance Art*

      And half the time it’s not about being informed, it’s because you came to different conclusions from the same information. disagreeing about whether candidate x is a horrible person is about judgement unless one of you is unaware that the candidate in question has been stealing money from their kids with cancer charity, it’s probably a judgement call.
      I keep getting that “you need to be informed” from people after I expressed skepticism about their political conspiracy theory. This election is getting otherwise reasonable people to believe in conspiracy theories. I can’t wait for this election to be over.

  6. Jaguar*

    The trick to get people to stop bringing up a topic is to deny them the thing they’re looking for. It seems like Lisa is interested in talking about her political beliefs or engaging in a debate. The debate is pretty easy to deny – just refuse to enter into it or boredly agree with everything she says (I’ve found there’s nothing more frustrating for people that want to stir up debate than to agree with them while making it clear subtextually that you’re only doing it to get them to shut up). If she just wants to talk about her beliefs, it’s a little trickier. You could try constantly interrupting her with other stuff or pretend you weren’t listening when she tries to get any engagement. The point is to get her to feel that “Talking politics with OP is the worst.”

    This depends on your relationship with Lisa, of course.

    1. Jaguar*

      I say this as an alternative to the “I don’t wish to talk about politics” line because I know argumentative people can often not respect that boundary and see it as a challenge to overcome instead. Especially if she feels it’s important enough to say something like “you need to be informed” or “look what these people are doing to our country.”

    2. LQ*

      I’m pretty opposed to agreeing even if you make it clear you’re only doing it to get them to shut up because I’ve found that can spur people on (ymmv). But a super bored noncommitial sound is pretty effective for me. “huh” said with the same enthusiasm you’d use for a wet dishrag, not an I’m interested huh but a super bored voice. I’ve also yawned. (First unintentionally, then I discovered it worked and yup, it was super handy.)

      1. Jaguar*

        Yeah. I mean it in the super-bored noncommittal way. Make sure there’s zero enthusiasm in the agreement. I’ve found that agreeing sarcastically frustrates people more than noncommittal noises, though.

      2. Adam*

        Yeah. The aim is to get Lisa to stop talking/yelling about this stuff. I think passively agreeing with her isn’t going to stop her from yelling; she just won’t be yelling AT the OP.

    3. CaliCali*

      As someone whose father is a lot like this, I agree. I’m on the opposite side of the political spectrum, but I also know it’s totally fruitless to argue with him (nor is it fun — he’s a bit of a conversational bully), so I just kind of dispassionately make “mmhmm” noises and eventually he gets bored.

    4. INTP*

      If you can’t stomach agreeing with them, another thing that drives them nuts is to stick to your views but agree with their personal accusations against you.
      “Yeah, I’m a bleeding heart. That’s just how I feel and I can’t change it.”
      “You have your head in the sand. This is what is really happening.” “It’s so confusing to sort out all these conspiracy theories! I just believe what NPR says because they seem the most credible.”

      I don’t adhere to my political persuasion because I’m idealistic or emotional – I became convinced of it through facts about other countries, and leaving my “this is how people should act” for a “this is what works best in practice to increase quality of life for the most people” view – but I’m accused of it because of what that persuasion is, and it makes people absolutely insane if I pretend to acknowledge that but feel no desire to change it.

    5. Minion*

      Now that’s an interesting way to respond.

      Lisa: Political rant of some sort! I can’t believe blah blah blah and really, I can’t stand blah blah! What do you think?
      OP: Oh yeah, that’s true. Can you hand me that widget? These things don’t sort themselves! Ha ha.
      Lisa: I mean, really, if blah blah wins, we’re all doomed, ya know?
      OP: I know. Wow, these things are hard to keep track of. Hey, did you ever see that order of widgets come in?
      Lisa: Yeah, they came in yesterday. Not that it will matter if blah blah blah happens and then blah blah goes down. People need to get their heads out of the sand and be informed!
      OP: That’s true. I’m going to head over to the other side of the store now to stock the widgets we received yesterday. Oh, and I think there’s another order to receive. Would you mind checking? Thanks.

      Of course, it doesn’t stop the ranting from being incredibly annoying, but it might eventually get through if you just can’t stomach the thought of being direct and risking a confrontation.
      If I were talking about something that I’m very passionate about and I kept getting bland agreement, I think I’d move on and talk to someone who’d engage with me a little more or who seemed interested in engaging. I’m one that really enjoys a good political debate – but only if we can all remain respectful. I have my hot-button issues, but generally I can keep it level and I expect others to do the same when we’re talking politics.
      Of course, I don’t really do that at work. That’s not the place to debate politics. Or religion. Or pokemon go, apparently. (don’t ask me how I know that…)

  7. Adam*

    If you (I mean the general “you”; not the OP) can’t talk politics as a polite rational person it’s ultimately pointless. No ideas are actually exchanged. Just headaches.

    I agree with Allison that refusing to engage past asking her to not talk to about this stuff at work anymore is likely the best route. Remember: enforcing your own reasonable boundaries is not rude, regardless of how Lisa might take it.

    1. A Definite Beta Guy*

      In agreement. Political conversations can actually be fun despite because of different opinions. Not in spite of!
      At least to the extent people respect another.

      However, the letter-writer describes a scenario that would drive me crazy! Who wants to listen to political rants all day long? Of ANY stripe?

  8. Poohbear McGriddles*

    Wait, there’s an International Rice Sculpture Treaty in the works? Finally! Those darn things have gone unregulated for far too long.

    1. Poohbear McGriddles*

      By the way, Lisa, Fergus has some ideas about the Treaty that are way different from yours. Maybe you should go straighten him out.

    2. neverjaunty*

      Ridiculous. Over-regulation of the international rice sculpture market is one of the key drivers behind our current trade imbalance.

      1. Lora*

        Clearly you are unaware of the flood of sub-par, even hazardous rice sculptures flooding the bento box markets these days. Why, just the other day my cousin’s friend’s brother’s second cousin-in-law was admiring a Hello Kitty Paella exhibit, and a piece of shrimp fell onto her foot!

          1. Liane*

            I will chair the committee to evaluate and report back on appropriate non-partisan wines to serve with paella.

            1. Catalin*

              Lisa: ALL WINES ARE PARTISAN AND THEY’RE CROOKED. And rice sculptures aren’t even an issue, the real issue is how to bring these rice sculpting jobs home to COUNTRY!

            2. Dynamic Beige*

              The only wine to drink with rice is rice wine.

              Paid for by the Research Institute of Comprehensive Experimentation — donate to our SuperPAC today!

    3. Creag an Tuire*

      I helped negotiate the International Rice Sculpture Treaty, but it no longer meets my standards. We need a revolution to force Big Rice to stop writing up Rice Treaties in backrooms against the will of the people. When other countries send us rice, they’re not sending us their best rice, they’re sending Minute Rice, they’re sending Uncle Ben’s, they’re sending Kashi. And some, I assume, is quite tasty.

      1. Random Citizen*

        And everyone is going into massive debt trying to buy these inferior rice sculptures. What we need is a revolution! Free rice for everyone!

      2. Catalin*

        *Lays down on the floor because I’m dying of laughter*

        The original post isn’t even that spectacular (compared to such winners as body-harvest guy and totally-not-dying-of-cancer), but these comments are majestic.

  9. animaniactoo*

    “You need to be informed!”

    “And I wish and get to choose how I am informed, and I do not want to discuss this at work. Please stop.”


    “Not wanting to talk with or listen to you about it does not mean I am not informed. It simply means I don’t want to talk with or listen to you about it. Please drop the subject.”

  10. Lora*

    You mentioned that you are both in sales positions…does she do this in front of / in the presence of customers? Because this is not a good thing, to be speaking of politics or religion or any potentially controversial topics around customers.

    In addition to the Broken Record Method, I’ve sometimes said “shhh!” to good effect when I am tired of repeating “I do not wish to discuss this with you right here and now thankyouhaveaniceday.”

  11. DaniCalifornia*

    Can I say how much i love that Alison reminds people that they aren’t being rude in her responses? That is what I always feared being when responding to someone acting like a jerk and just continually reading that has served as a reminder when interacting with unpleasant people.

  12. Anna No Mouse*

    I’m someone who loves a good political discussion, but if I even get the feeling that someone isn’t interested in speaking about it, let alone someone who has said they don’t want to discuss things like that with me/at work/on this particular Thursday, it would be pointless to continue. I like talking politics with other people who like talking politics.

    OP, your coworker is being very rude, and just like Lemon Zinger says above, the repetition works for me when I’m speaking to my toddler who is pretending not to hear me. Since your coworker seems to have a similar grasp of societal norms as my 2 year old, I’d say this is a good tactic to take.

  13. Allison*

    I’ve been there. Not at work per se, but I’ve had friends who would push back if I tried to end a conversation by waxing philosophical about how important it is to have an open dialogue, and they should be free to discuss their opinions even if some sensitive people can’t handle it, and people need to know the truth! But recently I’ve decided that while free speech is generally a good idea, my mental health is also important, so I no longer feel bad for telling someone “I need to end this conversation” or “I’m not getting into this with you” or “you both need to cut it out” if people are continuing a heated back and forth on something I posted on Facebook.

    Keep shutting down the conversations. If she gets mad and argues that she needs to discuss this stuff RIGHT NOW, calmly mention that you are informed of these issues, and you do care about them, it’s just not something you care to discuss while you’re at work. If she ignores you and goes off on a rant anyway, don’t even pretend to listen if she goes off on a rant, don’t pretend to agree, but don’t argue either. If she ignores you and keeps going, act like a brick wall. People like this are fueled by both positive and negative responses and will keep going if they think someone’s listening to them.

    1. ElizabethWest*

      This. Recently I’ve had people completely hijack posts I made and start ranting about their political thing (even when the post had NOTHING to do with the election). Then other people start arguing with them in the comments, and I keep getting notifications. I tried redirecting, which did not work. What I did finally was delete the posts–I think next time, I’ll just delete their comments. >:)

      Being a brick wall is good because Lisa can’t argue with one. :)

      1. EddieSherbert*

        But the ‘plus’ of just deleting the post is that they can’t re-comment or comment to ask where their comment is ;)

        1. animaniactoo*

          Oh, that’s when you get to the really fun part of informing them you had a boundary and you’re going to enforce it against them! “Sorry, Abernathy, I removed it because I didn’t want my post to be sidetracked on that subject. I hope you understand, and of course you can make the point you were talking about here on your own wall/post.”

          1. Newby*

            This. Free speech does not mean that you need to listen to what they have to say or provide a platform for them to say it.

            1. Rana*

              Yup. Free speech really only refers to government censorship. It says nothing about individuals shutting one down when one is being an ass.

              1. Anne (with an "e")*

                +100 Yes. This.
                People really do not get this. I am not the government trying to censor you. I just don’t want to hear it. Why can’t people understand this?

                In my humble opinion, one person’s freedom ends were my freedom begins.

      2. Pennalynn Lott*

        Oh my goodness, we must have the same friend(s). I recently posted something tongue-in-cheek that could be seen as pro-woman, pro-LGBT, pro-minority, pro-alternate-or-no-religion. [It was a meme that said, “Do something that would make a 1950’s straight white male angry.”] I had a friend, who is known for being an @ss online, go on a rant about how horrible it was for someone to choose to do something that would make someone angry, versus choosing to do things because they’re positive and happy. The kicker? He’s a straight white male.

        I replied that I thought it was ironic that the only negative comment to my post was from a straight white male and, besides, the people the meme was talking about are all pretty much dead by now. His response was an LGBT slur disguised as a joke. So I blocked him from the post. About an hour later he IM’d me the following: “You deleted the post?!? LOLOL!!” I told him, no, the post was still there but I’d blocked him from seeing it (and thus being able to comment further, which he obviously had tried to do).

        He’s also one of those people who seems to believe that he is entitled to an audience — in all places and at all times — for whatever opinion he happens to be having at the moment.

        My default FB posting setting is now customized to: “All friends except [This Person]”. So he’s not unfriended or blocked, but he can’t see anything new I post. Works for me! :-)

        1. Here, kitty, kitty...*

          I wondered how long it would be before someone posted their particular political beliefs in this thread.

    2. mazzy*

      I literally thought the same thing recently and took a week off from the news. Reading every single day about Don and hillary’s flaws got seriously depressing for me for a while there. It is helpful to turn it off and focus on something positive.

    3. Rusty Shackelford*

      I’ve been there. Not at work per se, but I’ve had friends who would push back if I tried to end a conversation by waxing philosophical about how important it is to have an open dialogue, and they should be free to discuss their opinions even if some sensitive people can’t handle it, and people need to know the truth!

      “I can handle it. I just find it terribly boring right now.”

    4. Elle*

      I really wonder about all of these Facebook political rants. I feel like asking, “Do you REALLY THINK you are going change someone’s mind by posting all this crap??” I’ve unfollowed so many people in the past few months. Strangest election I’ve ever lived through. And since I’m complaining, my boss is on the side of one candidate, and my husband is on the other…so I get to listen to their diametrically opposed rants at work and then at home! Good times. I’ve told them both I don’t want to engage anymore, they’re making me a nervous wreck with all the ranting!

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Well, I’ve noticed a shift on one person’s opinion–I’ve been counteracting a third-party rant with calm commentary on the more likely outcomes, and I’ve noticed a shift in this person’s posts. I’m sure they probably came to that conclusion on their own, but I hope I helped a little.

        The rest of the time, I do like you–on Facebook, I just hide the posts. And IRL, I do the Kanye Bruh meme face/head tilt and moan, “OMG stawwwwwwwwwwwpppp….” (Not at work, LOL)

      2. Rana*

        Among my friends, it’s more commiseration and “can you believe this!” and “I love this!” sorts of link sharing. But we’re all mostly on the same page, and when we’re not, we’re pretty good about talking through our points of difference.

        My uncle, on the other hand, loves to stir the shit. I can’t figure out if he’s doing it to persuade people to change their views, or because he like riling up certain other family members. Even though I basically agree with him, I avoid commenting on those posts, because I do not need the drama.

      3. Emma*

        Eh. Facebook can be a great pressure release for those times where I really want to say something but not at someone, but when doing all those tricks like just writing it down and deleting the file don’t scratch the itch. Though in my case I default to all my posts being “only me” so I guess it’s not quite the same. I do know a bunch of folks who don’t know how to/that you can change your privacy settings, though, so that might be a part of it.

        I mean, on the one hand, you’re right, it’s not like these posts are going to change people’s minds and singlehandedly win the election, and they’re often really annoying to see. But on the other hand, it’s not hard to block or filter them either. (I mean, hell, to me the most annoying things posted to Facebook are when my sister decides to randomly spam her feed with cutesy “badass” quotes. I don’t think there’s anything you can post to Facebook that doesn’t piss off someone when they wind up seeing it twenty times in a day.)

    5. chocolate lover*

      “Not at work per se, but I’ve had friends who would push back if I tried to end a conversation by waxing philosophical about how important it is to have an open dialogue, and they should be free to discuss their opinions even if some sensitive people can’t handle it, and people need to know the truth! ”

      I would tell those people they’re free to discuss whatever they want, but I’m not required to engage with them or even listen. I have just as much right NOT to discuss something, as they have to discuss something.

    6. Emma*

      I’ve had friends who would push back if I tried to end a conversation by waxing philosophical about how important it is to have an open dialogue

      It’s not an open dialogue when they won’t let you get a word in edgewise. Says a person who was a chronic user of that line (and technique) during her obnoxious college years.

      I’ve taken to getting snippy and actually saying that to people, or pointing out to them that they don’t really want a dialogue, they just want agreement, and I don’t feel like giving it to them. But then, the people who pull this on me are a) not people I like and b) not work colleagues, so there’s some leeway for snippiness.

  14. Thornus*

    My boss does this all the time. He’ll call us in for a meeting on some subject, and that will be going along fine. Then he’ll just randomly stop and say “Did you hear what [POLITICIAN] said? That’s so stupid.” Then he’ll go on a fifteen to thirty minute rant about various political issues. All the while, one person might respond while I just feel captive the whole time (I have different politics from the rest of the office, which is fine, but I also don’t discuss my politics with anyone else in the office at all, so they don’t know what mine are (I’d also feel captive if the politics were on the same track as mine)). And I can’t really leave, and I can’t put him back on topic because it’s impossible to get him to stop until he’s done with his rant.

    1. mazzy*

      Happening now at my job as well, and I hate it because everyone has to agree, and also it’s so one sides (because HRC never did or said anything dumb). Too look around at my captive coworkers shaking their heads but probably being indifferent is cringeworthy, especially since less than half probably even know what he is talking about and less than half of those seem to ever know anything substantial about what he is talking about. No one has the guts to tell him that the political rants of a rich European boss who only hops between cities like Los Angeles and Miami and seems not to like middle Americans much is probably not a good unbiased source. Because it totally makes sense for everyone in a country this huge to have the same exact concerns and vote the same way, you know, because LA’s problems are the same as small town Mississipi’s.

      I hope politics never comes up again at work

  15. Lisa*

    I always just say I don’t discuss religion or politics at work or with family. Nothing good can come of it.

    1. Gandalf the Nude*

      There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.

      1. Emma*

        Weirdly enough, the third proverbial “no” – money – I don’t think I’ve ever had turn into a major problem conversationally. Books, on the other hand … I think we’re probably going to be banned from discussing children’s literature this Thanksgiving.

  16. MechE31*

    Back in 2004, I was an intern at a government facility that leaned heavily Republican.

    I had a coworker who would go around asking people who they were voting for in the 2004 presidential election. When they would inevitability state Bush, he would respond “Let me tell you why you’re wrong” and explain why they should vote for Kerry. It was, shall we say, interesting…

    1. MoinMoin*

      I get the urge to have conversations about this amongst likely “allies” but I don’t at all understand why someone would want to bring things up just to preach at or argue with people you know won’t agree.

    2. RVA Cat*

      Has anybody, ever, in the history of the world been convinced by an argument that begins with “Let me tell you why you’re wrong”? I think not.
      P.S. – Is it still mansplaining when he’s inflicting it on other dudes?

      1. Jennifer*

        > Is it still mansplaining when he’s inflicting it on other dudes?

        Well, it would be, but this isn’t an example of mansplaining. Arrogance or glassbowlery, perhaps, but not mansplaining. A better example is, let’s say you wrote a book on TOPIC. And I see you holding the book, and I read the title, and I engage you in conversation about it. And you tell me “I have worked so hard on this, I’m so proud to get it published,” but I never hear that because I’m so busy EXPLAINING THE TOPIC TO YOU. And then you kind of shift the book in your hand so I can see the author’s name (which is YOU) but I never even notice, because I’m so busy explaining YOUR topic of expertise TO YOU.

        (If you’re a man and I’m a woman, then there is some argument that this doesn’t count as mansplaining because it doesn’t take advantage of the social dominance that men display toward women, but this is still a better example than “picking fights just to start an argument” is.

        1. Emma*

          God, this is my father with practically everyone. He’ll pout, too, very obviously (we’re talking crossed arms and stuck-out lip, like a sulky toddler), if someone else is explaining something to him – unless it’s the rare occasion where he believes the explainer has a higher social status (so, like, his white male primary care physician, but not the Hispanic specialist he saw for a while), then he’s vaguely normal and personable.

          It is goddamn creepy.

  17. OlympiasEpiriot*

    Among the gang I eat lunch with, there’s a thing called “The 30-Second Rule”. Anyone is allowed to call for silence on a topic after 30-seconds of talk at our table. This could be something that’s making another gag while they eat, something upsetting, something dull, someone is heading towards spoilers on some tv program, something that someone is just flogging and has gotten boring, whatever.

    It is a really good rule. We all treat it with good humor and, funnily enough, we haven’t run out of things to talk about. Oh, and if anyone brings up an actual job (consultancy here, we bill by the quarter hour to the client) during lunch, everyone around the table gets to bill to it. This is ALSO good for conversation.

    I recently called it on the election. I also asked how everyone felt about calling it on all election talk pre-emptively until I went on vacation. We all actually seemed happy with that, no matter the political leanings. This thing is exhausting.

    Obvs, this might be a lot harder to do with only two of you; but, might be useful to introduce.

    1. mazzy*

      That is a good rule. I think what a lot of people miss is that people with different views came to those views based on life experience and good information in many cases. They probably aren’t hearing your argument for the first time, and it’s definitely not the first time they’ve thought about the topic. So you can yap all you want, but you’re probably wasting your time because you’re not providing new information.

      In fact, you’ll need to be ready to be confronted with information that disproves YOUR pov

        1. Emma*

          The insidious thing about conspiracy theories is that they only seem delusional and irrational from the outside. It’s also pretty well known among people who legitimately study conspiracy theories that once you start trying just to understand these theories and their believers, the theories themselves start seeming more rational, and it can be surprisingly hard to check yourself on that.

          Sorry. It’s just that this (and the related notion, that only stupid people fall for cons) is one of my pet peeves – it’s not just stupid, delusional people who believe in conspiracy theories, and being avowedly rational doesn’t save you.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        My biggest prob and irritation with the election news this time was with our resident self-proclaimed ‘different-than-all-of-you’ who has changed their mind during this election season and now is doing lots of drama-laden mea culpas with lots of lengthy references as to why they needed to make a change of heart.

        The first time, it was interesting and kinda humorous (they told it like ‘you all will never believe it but now I’m on your side…lolololololol’). After that, I was like, okay, okay, I get it and I’m bored and I’m soooooo sick of this election no matter who wins, not that I’m mad at you, but I don’t even care if Baby Jesus Comes To Earth In a Golden Cloud With Unicorns For Everyone … that I had to do something. 30 Second Rule to the Rescue!

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          And I want to assure everyone, this is casting no aspersions on my co-worker. All is sunshine with them otherwise, I was just already overwhelmed by this season and it was really a very-last-half-straw on this camel.

          end ‘o’ rant of mine.

      1. OlympiasEpiriot*

        It is really useful. You do have to have a pretty good crowd though who isn’t going to use this to be bullies. I could imagine it getting an edge with the wrong bunch. I think we basically want to get along amicably at lunch.

  18. Michelle*

    No is a complete sentence. When Lisa starts up a simple “No” followed by going to another area of the store. If she follows, you could repeat or say “No, I am not talking about politics with you”, and walk away.

    After you asked her more than once to stop trying to draw you into political discussions, I think you need to take a hard line, even though you it feels rude. If she continues, I would ask the manager to speak with her.

    If I went into a business and heard someone ranting about politics, I would tempted take my business elsewhere.

  19. Pwyll*

    It’s really interesting to read all these comments because, working in politics, I don’t have this luxury. It’s nice to see how “normal” (read: not instane politico) people deal with politics for a change.

    1. Adam*

      It’s a funny little Catch-22 as politics are meant to be discussed (in the appropriate venues). Otherwise how else would we make decisions and come up with workable solutions and compromises?

      The trouble is that it seems so few of us are able to do so without it turning into the adult version of “I know you are but what am I?”

      1. Anna No Mouse*

        And too many people don’t want to discuss their thoughts on politics. They want to shout until the other person concedes their argument. In lots of cases, it’s not even about that. It’s just about hearing themselves speak, even if their audience is in full agreement.

        1. Adam*

          Yes. And that’s why for OP it’s so important not to engage with Lisa regardless of what her own political leanings are. For people like Lisa, whether you disagree or agree with her, engaging in the loud passionate way is the fun part for her. If OP can routinely present that she does not care/doesn’t want to discuss it then it’s no longer fun for Lisa.

        2. Not So NewReader*

          Hey, you might be on to something.
          “Lisa, YOU’RE RIGHT you SO WIN. There. Now we have that covered we can talk about other things.”

        3. Emma*

          This. My father, for example, is fully convinced that everyone he speaks to is in 100% agreement with his ever-shifting political views (spoiler: we’re not), and yet will still corner family members and pontificate at them at great length. He seems to consider it some form of exercise, and is determined to get in at least an hour of it a day.

          I’ve yet to find a way of shutting him up that doesn’t at least imply agreement.

      2. Mike C.*

        I’ve found that it takes practice, sensitivity and mutual respect. It also helps if folks can agree on a base set of facts.

        But the key thing here is that this has to be done in a safe way – you can’t have people shouting or getting angry or accusing people of being terrible people.

    2. Chinook*

      “It’s really interesting to read all these comments because, working in politics, I don’t have this luxury”

      I feel the same way when people are discussing religion. The most “passionate” discussion I ever had to moderate was in a religious ed class about a religious topic where the speaker was factually wrong and wouldn’t believe me that I was right (he countered that I had been brainwashed by a certain group). Eventually, as I started to get louder and more frustrated, I looked at him and said that we will have to agree to disagree and move on to another topic. I had to repeat that phrase 5 times and then, when he wouldn’t let it go, I ended the class an hour early and stated packing up. I had never done that before but was quite relieved when others quietly thanked me for stopping the rant anyway I could. When the topic is hotly debated, sometimes the only way to end it is to walk away.

  20. Amber Rose*

    If you get tired of repeating yourself, try any of the following words:

    I see.

    In a monotone, disinterested kind of way.

    1. Emma*

      I’d be careful with stuff like “interesting,” even if you do stick to a monotone. I know plenty of people who would ignore the tone and latch onto the word and use it as an excuse to talk to you more.

  21. Thumper*

    I’m a very non-confrontational person (a blessing and a curse), and when this would happen to me in a work setting, I would just tune people out by concentrating on whatever task I have on hand. Even if they didn’t get I wasn’t interested, they’d understand that I was too busy to talk. It works when they’re just venting and want a pair of ears nearby, but if they’re trying to actively engage me in the convo, I just respond with various “hmm”s and “uh huh”s until they get bored and change the subject. I’ve never had to deal with someone as aggressive as Lisa, though, but it could possibly work.

  22. CM*

    Spray her with a water bottle whenever she brings up politics.
    Or just say, “I’m going to take a look at the TPS report” and walk away.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I love the idea of saying “I’m going to take a look at the TPS report” in an office with no TPS reports. I want this to be everyone’s new go-to for getting out of annoying/boring conversations.

      1. TootsNYC*

        Right up there with, “How about that Local Sports Team?” I read an Internet comment (maybe here!) from someone whose family said literally those words (“Local Sports Team” instead of “Cubs” or “Raiders”) when they wanted to change the subject.

        1. TL -*

          My old workplace, I had them trained to change the subject when I said, “How ’bout them Spurs?”
          I live in Boston but hail from Texas and it’s a great shorthand for “Change the subject now, please.”

        2. aliascelli*

          “So when I was changing the subject the other day…”

          (where did I steal that from? here?)

        3. NotASalesperson*

          I have literally said, “How ’bout them local sports teams?” in a situation with an uncomfortable topic and lo and behold, they started talking about the local sports teams. 10/10 would try again.

        4. SarahTheEntwife*

          Among my college friends group it was, “So, about those trees we’ve been having…”

      2. chocolate lover*

        I had to look up TPS report. I think I’ll try that, and watch the confused look on people’s faces!

      3. The Butcher of Luverne*

        Remember that episode of Friends where Chandler got a A Real Job in An Office where acronyms ruled? At one point, we see him on the phone to a coworker, holding a sheaf of papers and saying, “I’m looking at the WENUS and I don’t like what I see!”

        (WENUS = week end net usage summary)

      4. The Politically Fatigued OP*

        OP here… I’m adding this to my anti-political-talk-in-the-office arsenal! :)

    2. OlympiasEpiriot*

      “Spray her with a water bottle whenever she brings up politics.”


      (walks away to clean herself)

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Yeah. I have some extra spritzers here that I use to keep my dog from jumping/barking/etc. The thought of talking to the coworker the same way I train my dog is really cracking me up.

        I sorry you are going through this OP. I think I would just say, “I don’t do politics at work.” And that would be my response to anything she says. I’d try to sound as bored as I could while saying it.

    3. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

      I had a choir teacher who used to spray the tenors with a squirt bottle whenever they went flat. One day the squirt bottle was empty (he used it to clean the marker off the laminated seating chart he used to take roll– all the seats were numbered, so it was easy to see who wasn’t there), so he used his drinking water bottle instead. They didn’t go flat as much after that.

    4. Formica Dinette*

      One of my cats was a badass street kitty before I adopted her, so she is not fazed by most tried-and-true techniques. When I point the squirt bottle at her, she *squints* and keeps on doing whatever naughty thing she’s doing. :D

  23. all aboard the anon train*

    There’s an assistant in my department who’s like this, though in addition to politics, she loves to get on her soapbox about social justice and is all “we need to have a discourse about X issue or identity”, even though most of the things she wants to soapbox about don’t affect her (which I only know because she precedes her comments with “as an ally to X race/gender/sexuality/religion…”) . She’s young and tbh she reminds me of the worst part of tumblr, because some of the stuff she says sounds so much like stuff I’ve seen there. Her manager doesn’t like confrontation so she doesn’t say anything, and this assistant doesn’t listen to anyone else telling her to stop and clearly doesn’t understand the “I might agree with you on Y topic, but I don’t want to talk about it at work” rule.

    Honestly, I just walk away from conversations with her or say, “That’s nice, now about this project….” I’m hoping she’ll get the picture eventually.

    1. Leatherwings*

      90% of the time someone starts a sentence with “as an ally” they should just really stop where they’re at and consider what they’re about to say.

      It’s great that she believes in social justice and is conscientious about identities that aren’t her own but… no.

    2. Jennifer*

      Miss Manners might be helpful here?

      > “I consider myself an ally to X race/gender/sexuality/religion”

      “How nice for you.”

      1. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

        Lol, great response. Or “Oh, you must be so proud of yourself.” It has to sound sincere :P

    3. Adam*

      It takes a special kind of irritating for someone to drive you crazy even when you agree with them. It’s almost impressive really.

  24. AtrociousPink*

    OldJob was a very dysfunctional workplace. I had only one friend there. Unfortunately, we were completely opposite politically. I don’t discuss politics at work; she would casually make comments, some outrageously uninformed, that she apparently thought I agreed with because I never responded with anything beyond a vague nod. One day, she went a bit too far, and I couldn’t resist calmly citing a couple of key facts she was missing. She didn’t speak to me for 3 months. Until I apologized. It was the hardest apology I ever made, but being in that place without a single friend was worse!

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If what I suggest in the post doesn’t work and it’s interfering with the OP’s ability to work. But if walking away doesn’t work — if Lisa follows her, still ranting — then Lisa is pretty much out of her gourd and it would make sense to alert a manager.

      1. SevenSixOne*

        I think it would also make sense to alert a manager if Lisa started hassling customers, vendors, etc with her political rants.

        1. LQ*

          I’d say immediately if Lisa is hassling customers. If a salesperson talks politics to me I’m out. Immediately. I don’t want to be in a store talking to a person and if I’m in a store I’m NOT there to get a political anything. This can impact the bottom line really quickly.

          1. paul*

            Yep. There’s a local firearm store in town I won’t shop at because of that. I just want to buy some damn ammo, I don’t need to hear your pants on head crazy talk about FEMA camps (FFS, I’ve worked with FEMA!).

          2. Liz in a Library*

            Yeah, I agree with immediately going to the manager then. As a customer, I had a cashier start a political convo with me the other day and it made me SO uncomfortable. We actually agreed completely, but I didn’t want to get into it while buying my groceries.

      2. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

        Yes, it’s the same with religious proselytizing. I’m very religious myself and I don’t mind discussing religion in general. But not at work. So if someone starts proselytizing at me at work, I’ll excuse myself and start walking away. I’ve only had one person ever follow me and continue proselytizing at me as I walked away. If that doesn’t work then there is some other issue with the person (there was with this person).

      3. The Politically Fatigued OP*

        OP here… There have been a lot of good suggestions in the post and in the replies. Lisa is socially aware and uber professional in most regards. She’s very passionate about politics, but I think if I’m more assertive that she’ll back down. Or at least recognize that it makes me stressed out and uncomfortable. I’d definitely take it to my manager if I thought it was turning into a personal attack or if our customer’s were impacted.

  25. Rusty Shackelford*

    And what if Lisa isn’t haranguing me in person, but she has a social media account that she uses for work purposes (it’s in her name, not the business’s name, but it’s tied to her work email address and she posts content relevant to our customers there), and is also using it to post political content? Asking for a friend.

    1. Anna No Mouse*

      Seems like someone using their personal social media account for work stuff is a bad idea anyway. Most platforms are free, so setting up one for the business itself is a real option, thus cutting out all non-business-related content at the source.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Alert a manager immediately if she’s using a work social media account to post personal political stuff without official okay. (That assumes it’s truly a work account, not just one linked to her work email address but one that customers think of as a work account.)

      1. Rusty Shackelford*

        I’m not sure how to define a “work account.” I mean, I have two separate Twitter accounts. One is tied to my personal email address, and I post personal things, including political opinions. The other is tied to my work email address and names my employer in my profile, and I post things related to work and useful to my customers, and also non-related work things that I just think will be interesting to followers. Never anything controversial.

        Lisa, on the other hand, has one account. She follows (and has followers) related to work. She tweets about our products/services. So it seems like a way to communicate with customers. But she doesn’t name our employer in her profile, our company actually has its own official account which is obviously not hers, and she also tweets personal things, including political posts. So presumably, if someone complained, she could say that it’s her personal account, and she just happens to care enough about work-related topics that she posts them as well. It just makes me uncomfortable.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If she’s using it for work and customers would reasonably see it as a place to get company-related info, she’s blurred the boundaries enough that your employer has standing to care about the politics stuff. The answer, really, is to tell her to stop using it for work stuff if she also wants to post politics stuff.

  26. Mike C.*

    This sort of behavior pisses me off to no end because by forcing the conversation on folks who aren’t comfortable with it you end up turning people off on the whole process all together. Yes we need more civil political discourse, but only in safe settings when all participants consent. Sure, I’ve carved out niches where I can talk politics at work, but only because I know those specific people are comfortable and it’s done in setting where they’re the only ones around.

    OP, keep saying no but try not to let your coworker’s terrible behavior turn you off from following and participating in the political process.

    1. Jaguar*

      Hmm. In Canada (or at least Vancouver), the culture around politics is very much an excited, “Are you going to vote?” or “Did you vote today?” There is a strong sense of civic responsibility associated with voting and a feeling that everyone should vote regardless of their personal politics. Does that not happen on election days in the U.S.? I’ve heard about voter suppression and intimidation, but I guess I assumed they were atypical cases.

      1. Leatherwings*

        Yeah, it’s weirdly different in the US. There is still a sense of civic responsibility but… it’s weird. A lot of people will lie about whether they voted because there’s very much a feeling of “Yes, there’s this thing I’m supposed to do, but I also don’t think it will make a difference so I won’t bother”

        People definitely get looked down on for not voting, but at the same time there’s a collective belief that your vote doesn’t actually count, which I think is ultimately a result of the 2 party system + the electoral college.

        Vote people!

        1. Not So NewReader*

          Agreeing with your US take on things.

          Easily half the people I know do not vote because they feel why bother. I do not see any peer pressure to vote, either.

          I do not get a strong sense of people valuing the right to vote. Personally, although I do go vote, I get a major knot in my stomach each and every time.

        2. Emma*

          My state was red well before I was able to vote, and so I was pretty convinced it didn’t matter but sucked it up and did it anyway because Civic Responsibility. And then … it went blue. And suddenly it became very, very clear to me that yes, even when you think voting’s not going to matter, it damn well does. You don’t know when the circumstances might be right for a shift like that. You don’t know which ballot it is that suddenly tips things one way or the other.

        3. Mike C.*

          What the hell, seriously???? It’s one thing to not vote because your state has made it difficult to, but holy shit people, you do realize that there are state, county and local races that affect you directly and are often decided by a few hundred votes.

          Not to mention all the important things that get shoved to odd numbered years precisely because of low voter turnout.

          The excuse of “only two parties” leading to low turnout doesn’t make much sense to me because I can point to electoral years where turnout was high and there were still only two major parties.

      2. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

        I lived in Canada (Toronto) for over a decade and now I live in the US. The culture in Toronto is similar to what you say about Vancouver. Here in the US, difference is palpable. My company is good about getting out the vote, even letting us leave early on election day, but this is very rare. The ruling party of my state has also strategically moved voting locations and changed their hours to maximize votes for their party.

        As for Canadian vs. US attitudes: In Canada, the major parties have different interpretations of and responses to the facts; in the US, they have different facts.

      3. Mike C.*

        Yeah, in the United States we have a really unhealthy attitude about never discussing things people might disagree about. There was a place I used to work with lots of folks from all over the world, and they were much, much more comfortable about such discussions, and I think we as Americans could learn a great deal from it.

        1. Mike C.*

          Also, suppression is a very real thing. Federal courts have already knocked down the plans of several states to restrict voting.

          You have some states that just mail everyone a ballot a few weeks ahead of time to fill out at their leisure all the way to states where you need to show paperwork and be at once specific site and hope there are enough machines.

  27. TootsNYC*

    Several of our suggestions focus on “not wanting to talk politics at work,” but I just wanted to highlight neverjaunty‘s phrasing, because a similar point would work for Lisa:

    What about something like “Boss, I’m kind of suffering from politics fatigue. Can we discuss something else?”

    Maybe our OP will have better success if the appeal is a bit more emotional: “I’m finding all this political stuff stressful, would you help me by avoiding the topic?” (but again, the cut-and-paste is the most effective way to keep the conversation from continuing I think)

    1. Mike C.*

      I really dislike this excuse, because it comes off as really immature – like a kid complaining that their parents turned on BBC Newshour instead of cartoons. If I heard that said by an adult, I’d suddenly wonder what other hard topics were “too stressful” to discuss as well.

      Stick to just saying not at work.

      1. NotASalesperson*

        I would say something similar if someone couldn’t stop talking about their bobblehead collection too. Politics has added stress to it because of the emotional charge to it all, especially if someone won’t stop talking to you about why your opinions are ridiculous in a situation where you can’t say anything in return.

        It’s entirely valid to find politics stressful and use that as a reason why you would prefer not to talk about it at work, like, “You know, I see a lot of this on my Facebook feed at home, too, and I find I’m somewhat exhausted with this subject. Can we move on?”

        The difference between politics and other stressful work topics is primarily that politics is NOT a topic that needs to be discussed at work. If being stressed out about politics doesn’t affect my ability to deliver the TPS reports on time, why should it matter whether it stresses me out at all? Stress about politics doesn’t impact the ability to have serious conversations on other topics – performance reviews, interviews, addressing problematic behavior, etc – so I’m not sure why you jumped to that conclusion.

      2. SarahTheEntwife*

        Wow, that’s pretty callous. Politics can affect people’s livelihood, and I don’t think it’s “immature” to be stressed or exhausted with wondering if you’ll still be able to get health insurance next year or something like that.

      3. The Politically Fatigued OP*

        OP here… I actually like that excuse. The business of Designer Teapots is very stressful by nature. Lisa has commended me for my composure in a crisis many times. She knows that stress is something I handle well. We get along on a friendly and interpersonal level, so I’d feel okay to say “stressful” or “fatigued”.

    2. Dynamic Beige*

      Honestly, I don’t know how Americans can stand it. Does it ever stop? It seems there’s always some sort of election going on down there. I can really see myself saying at work “You know Boss/Lisa, I would appreciate it if we didn’t talk about this right now. I get so much of it on TV, the internet, radio, Facebook, friends, parents, phone calls… it would be so great to be able to escape all of that and just focus on doing my job during the day.”

      1. Cath in Canada*

        I know… Canada managed to have its longest ever election campaign (78 days) last year. The US election was already big news when our campaign started, and we had a new government in office before you guys had even got to the primaries. I don’t know how you all have the stamina!

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          We don’t! I really want to have our entire national election season be a maximum of 6 weeks. 3 weeks initial campaign. All primaries happen in a 1 week period. 2 more weeks for debates and campaigning, then the election. I think people on all sides would appreciate it and only the advertising, marketing, and pr companies would lobby against it.

  28. Anonymous Educator*

    My co-workers frequently talk politics, and I don’t know that there’s much I can do about it, because it isn’t just one co-worker or even just my office. My co-workers and anyone else who visits our office talk about politics pretty much all the time. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it?), I happen to agree with their political opinions for the most part, but it’s still a bit of an odd culture shock for me. Usually I don’t participate actively and just go about doing my work.

  29. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

    I have a big office but a similar coworker. I do like the guy overall, and he’s good at his job, helpful, polite, etc. No issues there. But he does force political rants on me and on anyone else who will listen. I actually agree with a lot of what he says, oddly enough. But I still don’t want to discuss it. So I’ve started kinda “trolling” him. For instance, if he asks me who I’m voting for, I’ll say “Oh, I don’t believe women have the right to vote.” Then that changes the discussion to the subject of voting rights, and with other coworkers it shuts down the discussion completely.

    So, uh, I guess you could try some light trolling? Strictly for fun, of course. Always keep it light.

    1. Anion*

      Ha! I LOVE the “women can’t vote” thing!

      Now I’m picturing the OP informing Lisa that this discussion is pointless, because she received a message from the Lord telling her that the aliens will be invading earth soon anyway. And smiling serenely the entire time, because–she can admit, if pressed–she is one of the Chosen who will be able to breed with our new rulers, and she’s already “met” her alien mate, so her life will be spared. Almost everyone else, though…*sigh*

      And every time Lisa tries to bring it up afterward, she can say she’ll discuss it with Farnoo when they commune on the astral plane later.

      Or she could look spooked and tell Lisa that the Reptoids might be listening right now, so they shouldn’t endanger themselves by talking about such things.

      1. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

        Lol, this is great! I would totally do something like this, though I don’t know if it would work for everyone/OP. :P

    2. Katie F*

      I’ve been known to do that, but with obscure political figures from the past that not everyone still remembers. “Oh, I’m voting for Adlai Stevenson this year,” and walk away.

      I used to say “Aaron Burr”, but now everyone remembers who he was…

      1. starsaphire*

        I used to do exactly this at work! Someone would bring up politics, and I’d heave a big sigh, roll back my chair and put my hands behind my head like I was about to expound at great length, and then I’d say, “Well, I think Goldwater will take the Inland Empire counties, but I don’t think he’ll be able to penetrate the Orange Curtain; I’m sure that they’ll be going for Udall, while Bradley will etc., etc….” and just wait to see the expressions on everyone’s faces as (or if!) they work out that I’m talking about actual candidates… just, you know, not from this century… ;)

        1. OlympiasEpiriot*

          Oh that would be terrific.

          Actually, I derailed an e-mail chain last year during the crazy 16-person debates by commenting about someone (can’t remember now who it was) “Well, he’s NO Preston Brooks!” The e-mails stopped for a while while everyone involved went and looked him up.

          For a while some years back, I would respond whenever anyone asked me who I was supporting the I was generally pro-Rufus King. (Not that I really want to live in the 19th c. for any reason, but, at least he understood nuance and the importance of revisiting constitutional ideas.) Most looked confused.

      2. Cath in Canada*

        I have a “Vote Zaphod Beeblebrox 2016” t-shirt that I think I’d be wearing to work if I worked with a Lisa. Then any political discussion could very easily get sidetracked into a discussion of the inferiority of politicians with only one head.

  30. Isabel C.*

    Bad Advice: go into detail about your love life. (“I had the *wildest* night on Saturday. So I went home with this guy…”) and if she acts perturbed, give her wide eyes and say, well, if talking about *politics* is okay now for some reason…

    1. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

      I’d say talking about politics is definitely more acceptable than talking about sex, especially sexual detail.

      (BTW, when I say talking about sex, I *do not* mean “So, I went out for dinner with my wife/boyfriend…” — I mean literally describing sexual acts.)

    2. NotASalesperson*

      Additional bad advice: talk about your most recent issue with your digestive system and wonder out loud if your excrement is really supposed to be that color.

  31. Ever and Anon*

    I am impressed LW didn’t make his own political swipe at one political side or another by detailing specifics of Lisa’s views.

    1. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot*

      Yes, the wording is wonderfully sterile in that regard — something I hope to emulate…

  32. Fafaflunkie*

    Exactly what Alison says, but with one addition: if “Lisa” continues to insist talking politics, stick your fingers in your ears chanting “LALALALALA CAN’T HEAR YOU LALALALALA!” whilst walking away.

  33. SRMJ*

    If she continues ignoring the boundaries you’ve set, maybe try this line, with which I’ve had great success in similar situations:

    “I’ve told you I don’t want to talk about this/don’t like this. You tell me how many more times I have to tell you that before you stop doing it.”

    I don’t like saying things that have a humiliation factor, but sometimes it seems like there’s no other way, and it seems like the combination of being so tired and bored and irritated with the same dumb thing coming out of someone’s mouth constantly and the suggestion that you think they’re being an idiot by continuing seems to hit home. It just came out of my mouth one day, I hadn’t scripted it ahead of time or anything, and it stopped the argument about the annoying behavior immediately. The behavior hasn’t happened since.

    1. HannahS*

      Ooooh that’s useful. Not in every situation, obviously, but I feel like it would get through some thick heads. Nice.

  34. Maybe Tomorrow*

    Is anyone else getting that annoying pop up saying my generic android is 28.1% infected with muliple viruses due to visiting adult sites- on this page? It only pops up on this page.

  35. Amber*

    Unfortunately I’m in this situation too but it’s my boss’s boss who’s doing the ranting.

  36. lamuella*

    While it would be the wrong thing to do, I have images of carrying round a spray bottle and squirting her with it each time she won’t shut up. It works for keeping cats of countertops.

  37. East of Nowhere south of Lost*

    Our Head of Heads Teapot Manager some how found our our private email addresses that we never personally gave her. She then invited us to a fairly expensive teapot party political soiree that happened to be for the local candidate of the Purple Teapot Party when most of my friends know good and well i’m a staunch Orange Teapot Party person, and wanted an RSVP.


  38. Greg*

    My way of handling stuff like this: You basically have to choose to not engage in these situations. You have to outright say “I’m not discussing this” “Just stop” “I told you to drop it”. Leave the room, walk away. Do not give an inch even remotely because people like this will find the tiniest opening and go for it. I’ve had to do it with people before, you develop the polite but firm tone and make it clear it’s unacceptable.

    I had to do it when people wouldn’t stop bugging me about my weight, you basically have to be a rock refusing to discuss it. If they don’t stop then you have to escalate either reporting to a manager or hr or if it won’t get you in trouble then using more colorful language, note don’t do that if in your workplace it’ll get you in trouble. Basically you have to reach a point where you make the decision that your piece of mind is more important than this person liking you.

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