should I put my politics on display at work?

A reader writes:

Like many people, I am very passionate about the results of the recent U.S. election. I’m very opposed to our recently inaugurated president and his policies, and feel the need to express that firmly in all facets of my life.

To what extent is expressing one’s political beliefs appropriate / allowed in the workplace? I don’t mean proselytizing to coworkers (obviously annoying and inappropriate) so much as having a political sign in one’s cubicle or as one’s computer wallpaper, or wearing pins, etc. to work?

I too feel strongly about the election results, but I urge you not to do this.

Turn it around and imagine someone doing this who has political views opposite to yours — putting up signs and wearing pins expressing political views that you find offensive. Would it really not impact the way you saw the person? For most people, it would. At a minimum, it would make that person seem annoying (because they’re subjecting a captive audience to something they know will be inflammatory to at least some others, when you need to work together harmoniously), and it might also make you lower your opinion of the person’s professionalism and even make you less inclined to work with them when you have the choice.*

There are lots and lots of ways to use your voice in the political process, advocate for social change, and speak out against policies that concern you. Use those ways! Organize, donate, contact your legislative representatives whenever an issues matters to you, and generally stand up and make your voice heard.

But leave it out of the workplace, where most people want to do their jobs without being forced to inject politics in their interactions and relationships with each other.

* I do think there’s an exception here for stuff that simply carries a message of inclusion and respect, like a rainbow sticker, which I’d put in a different category. 

{ 754 comments… read them below }

    1. tigerStripes*

      It’s so nice to have a place that is free of politics. I’m almost ready to give up on facebook.

      1. Hard Boiled*

        Another reason for the OP to abstain from politics talk at work. They find expressing their displeasure makes them feel better, but for many people (even on their side) it’s the opposite. I talk politics all the time in my personal life, but having work be a regular politics-free distraction from that keeps me sane and from getting overwhelmed when things are happening in politics and society that upset me.

        1. DuckDuckMøøse*

          Unless you work someplace which has a mission to do politics stuff, and welcomes such displays, don’t bring it in. What is cathartic for one person can have detrimental effects on others. I’m not talking just about people with the opposite opinions. Everyone. All sides. I think we’re going to be seeing a lot of stress-related problems from the near-constant barrage of “this side said this” and “the other side said that” coverage. Don’t feed the stress. Most people have quite enough already, just from their jobs. ;) :p

      2. WildLandLover*

        I so understand tigerStripes. I DID give up on Facebook. I deleted my account a few days ago . . .

        1. Kate H*

          Big kudos to you! I wish I could delete mine. I try to only use it for messaging these days, as it’s my only line of communication to some of my friends and my fiancee currently living in another country.

          I will freely admit to having purged my friend’s list and unfollowed most of my family the day after the election.

  1. AnotherAnon*

    As someone who’s on your side of the political spectrum (albeit from the other side of the pond), I’d also urge you not to do this. I would be concerned that a coworker who showed this kind of protest in the workplace would start to be more overtly political, and might use the workplace as a soapbox. I’m sure that isn’t true for you, but it’d definitely impact the way I saw you and my interactions with you – particularly if I wasn’t sure that this was the most you’d involve politics.

    1. Venus Supreme*

      I agree. I went to order pizza from a local pizzeria and I went to check their hours on their Facebook page. Much like the OP, I am strongly opinionated regarding the recent election and I was discouraged from ordering from this pizzeria after I saw a post they made on their FB page colorfully expressing the owner’s political views that opposed mine. Had this pizzeria not shown their political alliance, I would have still ordered my dinner from them.

      Since the recent politics struck a very personal, emotional chord with me, I prefer to have this world separate from my professional/business matters. Boundaries need to be drawn, otherwise you’ll find passionate, oftentimes unscrupulous conversations/debates and feelings will be hurt.

      Please do not include any names, parties, or popular slogans near your desk if you feel the need to put something there. I agree that something rainbow would be a nice, subtle way to do so.

      1. memoryisram*

        Ooh I suspect I know what you’re referencing!

        But yes, subtle is the way to go. All of my liberal nonsense stays safely at home. No bumper stickers, either!

        1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          I disagree about bumper stickers, as long as they’re respectful and positive (e.g. “I support Cause X” not “&@%# Politician Y”). They’re a pretty normal way for people to express political views, and I think there’s an argument towards them having a small impact by demonstrating that people care about Cause X without being in your face. If you use your car for work, maybe not (like if you drive to clients’ houses), but if you just drive to work and park in the company lot I think a bumper sticker is okay.

          1. Parenthetically*

            Ooh, yes. A vague acquaintance of mine JUST bought a new vehicle — as in probably sometime in December — and got a new license plate to go with it. It says NOBAMA. If that isn’t the most churlish, infantile thing, to get an anti-Obama license plate six weeks before the guy’s term runs out. It even beats out the only other decoration he has on his car which is an “Obummer” bumper sticker. He needs a hobby.

            1. Venus Supreme*

              Oh. My. Goodness.

              I’ve never disliked someone so much that I customized a license plate to read a bad nickname for them. That’s the ultimate pettiness. Serving up some Petty Crocker bullcrap, seriously.

          2. WildLandLover*

            Unfortunately, even with bumper stickers, there can be problems. My aunt, who is a very outspoken liberal, had several on her car supporting liberal causes and she was literally followed and harassed more than once by those who disagreed with her . . . it’s truly scary out there!

            1. Venus Supreme*

              That’s a big reason I don’t have any bumper stickers on my car! I have special license plates to support a certain cause and I had one occasion where someone felt the need to road-rage against me based on my plates. I feel like you meet most of the lunatics of the world on the road.

              1. WildLandLover*

                So true! I don’t know what it is about getting behind the wheel, but some people just seem to lose their minds and control of their tempers . . . :-(

      2. Elizabeth West*

        Exactly. I saw an advert for a local company the other day on TV, and they used a version of the campaign slogan (the one on the hats) in their ad. That was enough to ensure I will never ever call them for their services, because how do I know that 1) the money I pay them isn’t going to support something I oppose, and 2) I won’t be subject to a diatribe on said ideals from their employees?

        If the items in question are on display near the OP’s desk where clients could potentially see them, that could cause problems for the business.

        1. Koko*

          omg, this just gave me a flashback to the time a new dentist spent a half hour appointment telling me why Obama was awful and Romney was the greatest while I silently prayed for the appointment to be over. That was the first and only appointment I had with that dentist.

          1. MommaTRex*

            It wouldn’t even matter to me if they had gone the opposite way. I’m not sure I would’ve even stayed for the entire appointment. Maybe if I agreed with them, I could stick it out for one half-hour…nope, on second thought, I’d probably do the “Hey, how about we talk about ANYTHING else?”

          2. Alex the Alchemist*

            Do we go to the same dentist? Mine spent an entire appointment complaining (with inaccurate information, I might add) about a certain religious group when I said I was studying religion at college, and another appointment complaining about how lazy people in my generation are :/

            1. The Strand*

              What a jerk. And here I am thinking I’m suffering, because I have to listen to ’80s hair bands at my dentist (who is from New Jersey, so Bon Jovi’s always on heavy rotation).

              If he’s part of a practice, you could let the practice manager know you don’t like to hear religious groups or your generation insulted while you have gauze and drills in your mouth.

          3. SystemsLady*

            The only doctor who should even respond to patient mentions of politics is a therapist, and even then it shouldn’t truly be in the form of a political discussion.

          4. Ted Mosby*

            WTF? How do you have someone you KNOW can’t leave and think that’s ok? Any sane person should know there is a huge chance of offending or at least just really ANNOYING someone.

      3. seejay*

        This reminds me of when I was visiting a certain restaurant in Philadelphia and they had posters stuck up all over their walls about speaking English and a few other choice phrases (this was back in the mid-2000s). As a non-American visiting, I was *HUGELY* uncomfortable and really squeamish the entire time and was desperately hoping I didn’t slip up with my accent. Sure, I was speaking English and was white, but I still felt really out of place and weird and squeamish about the political stance of it.

        I went there for a sandwich, not to have uncomfortable politics jammed in my mouth instead. I couldn’t even imagine how it would have been if I had the wrong colour of skin or a really distinct accent. :(

        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

          Ugh, that place was rife with really offensive (and asking for a lawsuit) signs.

      4. Redelurk*

        Even early on during the election I decided to embrace bumper stickers and business owners’ online diatribes. It’s never been so easy to decide whom to avoid.

    2. K.*

      I work in a place where the majority of people have political views that align with mine (and the OP’s) and I still wouldn’t do this. I haven’t seen any political paraphernalia anywhere around. It’s asking for trouble.

      1. Bookworm*

        Plus, frankly, I get exhausted thinking about it sometimes. I definitely get revved-up and try to contribute / make my voice heard where it counts: but part of the reason I have energy to do that is because politics isn’t on my radar at work.

      2. SystemsLady*

        I’ve been asked yes or no questions, answered no, then was politely asked to explain why, and the person was interested in my answer (which I moderate and qualify as much as possible), but that’s about what I’d limit it to at work.

        Also, I’d never bring it up myself, and there are certain situations and people where I’d probably just reply “hey how about them [local mascot]s?”.

    3. Christine*

      DON”T DO IT. I do not want to hear it at work, see it, or know what anyone’s politics are. If you are not family or a close friend of mine … keep it to yourself. You never know what someone else’s politics are, and it’s a good possibility that you’ll have someone blow up at you if you open that door.

      You will be opening yourself up to criticism and I would be the person that would run to HR about it…. because I so do not want to see it. Depending on your employee manual, you could find yourself written up, and possibility terminated.

      1. Hellanon*

        Yeah, I don’t really want to have to deal with *knowing* that people I otherwise like and respect hold political views I consider to be beyond the bounds of reason. They don’t need to know that about me either. I save that stuff for Facebook and its easy unfollow/unfriend options!

        1. copy run start*

          This is why I’m excluding my coworkers from my politics-related posts on Facebook — even the ones I think might agree. I just don’t think it needs to be inflicted on them, and they are the one group I do not want to open up a dialogue with.

          It was such a relief when a coworker who was always bringing up politics or controversial topics in the workplace (guns, human rights, foreign policy) recently found another job.

      2. SystemsLady*

        I definitely got a couple of questions that screamed “HR” this year even on top of uncomfortably expressing the person’s views. The person was either too much of a jerk to care or (more likely I’d hope?) blissfully unaware, assuming we’d agree.

        In all the cases I can think of, not having news TV showing a particular political program during lunch hour in the break room certainly would’ve helped.

        Worst opener I can remove the identification of the specific race from – and somehow this wasn’t the worst period – asked to a table of women: “hey, do you know what’s up with all these women voting for [female candidate] just cuz she’s a woman?”

    4. So Over the Election*

      I work in a university environment and directly with two students. I recognize that I have great influence over these two students as they look to me I take great pride in being able to say that they could not tell you which way I voted or if I vote at all. And it will stay that way.
      This does not mean that we haven’t had conversations about the election and the results. We have had many, in depth conversations where I ask them to stretch their thinking and to look at things from different vantage points – and they do. It makes work enjoyable.

      This is all to say that you can passionate about your politics, but try to recognize that very few people care what your personal politics are and likely don’t want to hear it, especially where you work and people are required to engage with you. If they are eager to hear your politics then they are eager for a fight or eager to simply hear that you agree with them. Quite frankly, regardless of how I voted (or didn’t), I don’t want to hear any of it. Not from the Trump supporters crowing about the win, not from the disenfranchised crying Not My President.

      1. Cassie*

        Glad to hear this. This is definitely the way I’m handling all of this too.

        Too bad the chair of our department is not shy about sharing his (unhappy) opinions about the elections – loudly to whoever will hear. I think it is inappropriate. Not saying he can’t have his opinions or that he can’t state them, but I think there are better ways to share concerns or displeasures. I don’t want to have to listen to him while sitting at my desk trying to do my work.

  2. Leatherwings*

    I’m with the OP, but I honestly feel sick to my stomach about this stuff constantly. If people talk about about it at work, it’s that much harder to block it all out and focus. I think expressing political views in the office just naturally brings up discussions between people, and that can be extra hard if you’re already hearing about it all the time.

    1. Trembly*

      Oh me too. I’ve had panic attacks regarding politics even before this election, so please don’t. All for activism though, volunteering, donating, etc. But please don’t cross that line.

      1. hayling*

        I don’t like talking about politics at work, and I share the same political views as my coworkers. It’s too distracting, no matter whether you’re complaining or arguing.

      2. Amber T*

        Yes to activism! No to it being in the work place! My office is (shockingly) 95% on my political side, but I still attempt to run away every time politics in general is brought up. CNN was constantly playing in our break room which resulted in me getting coffee from the other kitchenette (which we’re kinda not supposed to use since it’s attached to a busy conference room, but worth it – especially since my coffee schedule seems to match up with the one person who’s on the opposite side of politics and LOVES to talk about EVERYTHING).

        Even then, I don’t know how much activism you should bring up at work. I think it’s fine to respond with “what are you doing this weekend?” with “oh I’m volunteering at the Teapots Drive,” and follow up if said employee asks you more about it. But please please please, keep “I support this candidate!” out of the work place.

        1. Harold*

          Our break-area TV seemed to rotate among CNN, Fox, and static during the campaign. Last couple of months, it’s only been on the NatGeo channel.

    2. Wendy Darling*

      This! I am REALLY upset about some aspects of politics right now and I’m really glad that there are some politics-free zones so I can climb out of my massive pit of existential despair.

      And I also feel so strongly about certain issues that I find it difficult to respect people who hold certain views I find morally repugnant. Not knowing what people’s political views are makes it way easier for me to work with everyone. I just want to get along with everybody at work and do my activism on my own time. If someone holds negative viewpoints about groups I am a part of I would prefer they keep that to themselves at work so I can suspend my disbelief re: them judging me.

      1. Lex*

        I feel exactly this way. I need to be able to work with people I generally like and continue to think highly of them and if I find out the reasons why they voted for certain people I feel like I won’t be able to suspend my disbelief. I also don’t broadcast my own beliefs although I cannot imagine it would come as a surprise to any of them to learn how I vote, although I don’t really care if they judge me or not because I am certainly judging them in the privacy of my own mind and I am okay with them doing the same to me in their own minds.

      2. John Smith*

        Yes, exactly. I have strong feelings about certain issues that I consider to be basic human rights, but it is never appropriate in the workplace. For one thing, I don’t need to know your political views, for another, I don’t want your stance on an issue to affect my ability to work with your, or mine to affect yours with me.

    3. Willis*

      I work from home and have a hard time concentrating because of political news throughout the day! I can’t imagine being in an office where folks were bringing it up constantly, regardless of what side they were on.

    4. Junior Dev*

      Yes. Pretty sure I agree with OP but it’s hard enough to get myself out of bed every day without constantly being reminded of the things that terrify me while surrounded by people I have to act somewhat professional with.

      I’ve broken down crying about politics several times since Friday and even having someone make a political statement I agreed with would be enough to really upset me, depending on my mood. I like to maintain the illusion that I am an emotionally stable adult while at work, and I’d appreciate if people wouldn’t force me to think/talk about very painful current events topics while I’m trying to do my job.

  3. Annie*

    How can we politely respond to comments about the exceptions (rainbow stickers, messages of inclusion) if a co-worker deems it a political statement (especially if they assume it is, say, anti-their candidate/the current POTUS)? What would be good language to use to keep the peace?

    1. AnotherAnon*

      Maybe something along the lines of, “This isn’t against any politician or party – in fact I prefer to keep that out of the workplace – I just like to have that [item] because it expresses inclusion more than anything else.”

      1. Leatherwings*

        +1. It would be really hard/unreasonable in most workplaces for anyone to push back on that.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          “But if you support THOSE PEOPLE it means you’re a star-bellied sneech and blah blah blah…”

          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

            I think I saw one of those at my bird feeder the other day.

    2. animaniactoo*

      “I support this issue, as a basis for how we treat and respect each other as human beings. It is not intended as a message beyond that, and I feel this way regardless of which candidate or office holder agrees with it.”

    3. Cheryl*

      “This is a message of support for (affected community) and not a statement on specific politicians.”

    4. KellyK*

      It kind of depends on the specifics, both your message of inclusion and their comments. If, for example, someone criticized my Coexist bumper sticker, I’d probably say I believe in religious tolerance and inclusion, and I’m not sure why that’s controversial. In most cases, I think a bland, calm, “I think people of all religions/orientations/ethnicities/whatevers should be treated with respect,” doesn’t give people a lot to argue with. If they try to make it about current politics, just tell them you prefer not to discuss those things at work.

    5. Kelly*

      I agree with the others, but wanted to note that just because a lot of people might able to make educated guesses about your political beliefs doesn’t mean it’s the same as actually having blatant political messages. I can see how that would feel like a fine line to balance, but as long as you keep your responses to respecting all people and not engaging in the political talk or questions that arise from it, you should be fine.

      But it’s also dependent on your particular work environment. Like AAM always says, sometimes it’s about what “is” rather than what “should be,” and if you’re getting a lot of fervent push-back from co-workers and/or higher ups calling your rainbow sticker “political,” sometimes you have to balance your personal convictions with the level of response you get to them even if it stinks to do so.

  4. Anon13*

    As a corollary to this, having a political bumper sticker or window cling on the car you drive to work and park in the work parking lot is OK, right? I’d never really thought twice about the bumper sticker on my car (it’s just a sticker in support of a candidate, nothing out-of-the-norm), but a friend (not someone I work with) was shocked that I parked my car, with the sticker displayed, in a parking lot where colleagues could see it.

    1. Anon13*

      Oh, and, just to add, the parking lot is only for employees, no clients/customers see the cars parked there.

    2. Kimberly R*

      I would say the car is different because you own it and it isn’t your work space. You aren’t putting your political views in everyone’s face in work settings.

    3. AMG*

      As long as it’s the non-offensive type I think that’s more socially acceptable, and also…short. (Example of what not to do: that one about raising your truck because ‘fat chicks can’t jump….there’s a post here somewhere on AAM about that). It’s one small, brief-moment-in-time sort of message and I can choose to brush it off in the parking lot versus having to see it every time I interact with someone.

    4. Anon13*

      Thank you for the responses, all! It’s good to hear that I’m not the odd one for thinking it’s OK. (And it’s just a Hillary “H” (her logo with the arrow), so nothing odd or offensive! Sorry I was so vague in my first comment.

    5. KellyK*

      It’s extremely normal. That said, if your political views are the minority where you work, expect to get some criticism for it. (I didn’t put a sticker on my car this year, because my candidate in the general is pretty hated in my industry, although I did put a sign in my front yard.)

      1. LJL*

        That’s why I didn’t at my last job. Too much potential for blowback from those who didn’t agree.

    6. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      This is honestly why I don’t display political sentiments on my person or car. It’s just too fraught.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        Me either–and then when I’m driving around with it several years later, it just looks weird. I just put nerd or funny stuff on my car (I have that “T-rex hates pushups” decal on my back window).

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Yeah, I’ve got a roof cargo box plastered with stickers from national parks, breweries, outdoor companies, and random nerdy references – including a T-Rex Hates High Fives sticker :D

        2. KV*

          Right, gotta love the nerd stickers! I have had more friendly conversations with random strangers because of a “My other car is a Pynchon novel” than you’d imagine.

        3. User Experience Researcher*

          I was delighted when I found a Kerry/Edwards 2004 mug in my office’s mug collection :D

      2. Wendy Darling*

        I had a common but slightly controversial bumper sticker on my car when I was a young person. I parked near a middle school. A middle schooler saw my bumper sticker, took offense to it, ripped it off my bumper, and made an extremely feeble attempt at vandalizing my car (everything he did washed off or buffed out, except he broke my license plate frame but it was from the dealer so I didn’t care). The only reason I knew what happened was he was seen by a teacher and they left a note on my car asking me to contact the school administration!

        That was my last controversial bumper sticker, though. One 12 year old assaulting my car was plenty.

          1. Chinook*

            It sometimes doesn’t have to say anything. I had a “support our troops” decal on my vehicle back when DH was in the army and we had moved into what I later discovered was a separatist/anti-federal governement part of town (real estate agent didn’t bother to tell the two anglos that tidbit when she sold us the place). The sticker went missing within the week and made DH very aware/nervous about wearing his uniform to work (considering he was almost run over twice while crossing the street in uniform, he may have had good reason).

            I bought a second decal and it was gone within a week again. The third decal went on my rear glass on the inside of the vehicle. It is still there :)

              1. Liane*

                I desperately want a Darwin fish carrying a cross, because I am both a Christian and accept evolution as a fact.

                Discombobulate the maximum number of Folks Who Don’t Think Like Me

                1. Parenthetically*

                  Oh man, that’s my favorite too. People’s reactions when I tell them I’m a Christian AND a humorless feminazi killjoy ™: priceless.

                2. Sfigato*

                  Yeah, the darwin fish kind of irritates me because a) it seems to mock the christian fish, which is a nice symbol of faith, and b) it seems to imply you can’t be christian AND believe in evolution. It’s just kind of mean spirited. And, at least in my area, I’m like, ‘are little old latino ladies really your enemy, darwin guy? Do you really gotta take them down a notch?”

    7. Emi.*

      I don’t think it’s offensive, but honestly I think all campaign paraphernalia starts to look dorky after the campaign in question is over, regardless of whether your candidate won or lost (which is why I’d choose magnets over stickers–easier to get rid of!).

      1. turquoisecow*

        Yes! Ever see one of those cars going around with an old sticker on it? One of the sign posts in my hometown always made me laugh because it had a candidate sticker on it from about 10 years back, and nobody bothered to take it down.

      2. Anon13*

        This probably sounds like I’m some kind of delicate flower, but I left it on because I feel like it can feel really lonely when “your side” loses a contentious election and it can be comforting to see there are other people still with you. (And this isn’t about one political philosophy – I think it applies to both/all sides.) It is kind of dorky, though.

      3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        I have a friend whose mother just layers the new sticker on top of the old one (they usually overlap enough to cover up the prior sticker). I’m looking forward to the day they have to pry them off because they’re 0.25″ or more thick!

        1. copy run start*

          This is how my registration sticker is! Silly me never thought to peel the old one off, and we’re now too many years into it to stop….

      4. Sfigato*

        I live near san francisco, and I’m always like, woah, I’d never guess the guy in a prius voted for obama in 2008. Shocker. The H stickers around here felt like more of an act of rebellion since it meant you weren’t a bernie-or-buster. But either way they become obsolete the day after the election.

        1. Anon13*

          I actually drive a Prius, and I always joke that when I got it I signed a contract saying I am obligated to have at least one sticker supporting a Democratic candidate or liberal cause.

    8. Czhorat*

      I will note that, while it might be socially acceptable, in most states you are NOT protected from being fired for it.

      Take from that what you will.

      1. sam*

        I was going to note this as well. “political views” are generally not a protected category. So unless you work for a government entity where you could make some sort of first amendment claim, you could be fired for expressing political views at work.

    9. Aphrodite*

      I’d be very wary of placing anything of a political nature on my car because people with opposing feelings that are strong may, if they are of a sufficiently vicious nature, take actions against your car whether in motion or parked. This in fact happened before the election to my friend’s husband who had window sign for the Republican candidate on his car and a group of people (no need to specify who) taunted and raged at him while both were driving. He felt angry when my friend suggested he remove the sign, saying it was his right. Yes, yes indeed, it is. But it was not safe, and safety should take precedence.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        For me, it’s because I’m not a terrible driver, but it’s inevitable that you will do something to irritate another driver, and I don’t want to provide fodder for someone on the other side of an issue. “Typical X supporter, of course they’re a terrible driver.” People aren’t always super reasonable when driving.

        1. Marcela*

          Oh, I’m guilty of something like that. One of the guys in my building who cannot be bothered to move his electric car after he is done, has a sticker about one candidate whose supporters were often described as entitled. So when I can’t park next to a charger because he doesn’t move, I think “yeah, you support X, obviously you are a selfish jerk”.

    10. Anon today*

      Not exactly the same but my GF worked at a place with an exec who had a license plate frame that proclaimed “swingers r us”. Um, okay but I really do not want to know that about my co-workers.

    11. Dang*

      There’s someone who works in my building who has a “liberalism is a mental disorder” bumper sticker on their car.

      I’ve gone out of my way to NOT figure out who it is. And for the record I’d feel the same if it said that about the “other side.”

      1. Sfigato*

        I feel like all the “Typical libtard!!” and “typical republiTHUG” people should be forced to live on a small island together, or better yet do like a family swap where they go live around people whose political views aren’t aligned with theirs so they can learn that we aren’t just internet caricatures.

        1. Cath in Canada*

          Heh – my husband recently made contact on Facebook with a long-lost cousin, who it turns out is definitely on the opposite side of the political spectrum from us. After reading the cousin’s posts for a few weeks, my husband started to reply with things like “actually, my wife is an immigrant” and “actually, my wife’s at one of those marches today and she’s not stupid”. They ended up having a nice private message chat about how they’re very different in some ways but would still love to meet up for a beer if they’re ever in the same town, as long as they don’t talk about politics :D

    12. turquoisecow*

      I think that’s totally okay. Unless you have a particularly unique type of car, I probably wouldn’t even notice it, and unless I happened to walk in or out of the building at the same time as you, I probably wouldn’t know it was your car. However, posting a similar sticker on your office door or cubicle wall would leave no doubt of your political affiliations.

    13. BananaPants*

      If it’s just in favor of a particular candidate or ticket rather than against someone, it’s perfectly fine. I volunteered in a friend’s campaign for state legislature and put his bumper sticker magnet on my car from September through election day. If someone has a problem with my car in the work parking lot having a magnet saying, “Vote for Wakeen Fenix for State Representative”, then they need to find a hobby.

    14. The Strand*

      I have Star Trek clings (you could call them “cling-ons”, technically) on my car, but so far no Star Wars fans have attacked it. Might be different if it was a “Picard/Riker 2020” sticker.

  5. EA*

    Please don’t. Even if everyone around you agrees with you, it is exhausting. My coworkers and I all have what sounds like similar views to yours, but they talk about it all the time. The beginning of every meeting is a rant. I care, I just feel so burned out and would rather just focus on work.

      1. Kyrielle*

        I actually find it more exhausting (but less distressing) when I agree with people. There’s nothing like a group of people all spending lots of energy agreeing with each other…I’d rather get my work done and not spend energy and stress on echo-chamber discussions.

        It’s more distressing, and less-professional, if there’s someone you disagree with. But then it at least doesn’t feel entirely pointless. (It probably still *is*, actually, given how strongly people generally feel about these things, especially people who actually speak up. But it doesn’t feel as completely-empty.)

        Either way, agreeing or disagreeing, I am so happy to not have political discussions floating around – and the more political symbols you have, the more discussions they start, too.

        1. Code Monkey, the SQL*

          I agree with you that even an echo chamber can be exhausting. A discussion of a single issue can be productive – we had an interesting one the other day about whether we agreed with a co-worker if trade is the best limiter of international conflict, or if there are other ways.

          But just a general POLITICS POLITICS POLITICS discussion tends to dissolve into either heated polarization, or a mass discharge of ennui and rage. Neither one is great for work productivity.

        2. Anon for this*

          You know, I work somewhere where most of my coworkers probably feel the same way about the election as I do and the only person I ever talk politics with is someone who definitely voted for the other candidate. Our discussions are always calm and rational even though we vehemently disagree with each other. I think I appreciate these conversations, because the coworker is very senior to me and always tells me he respects how I think.

        3. Lablizard*

          My workplace has some grants for work that is not loved by the new regime, so it is damned near impossible to keep the politics out. It is a small fraction of our R&D funding, but it is also our most advanced, innovative projects so we have been having the science is real rant almost every meeting. I think we are stuck with it for the next 4 years

      2. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

        Plus 1 million. I’ve had to cut a lot of friends I agree with off (conversation off, not the friends off). My even is out of cant’s.

        Work is my one place that I’m free of it all, without fear that something will come up. I can’t say the same thing at home with the husband walking down the steps repeating another news story + editorial to me.

      3. Wendy Darling*

        I had to ban my parents from political discussion at Thanksgiving even though I agree with them because talking about it at all just makes me miserable right now.

        We’ve also cut WAY back on our news consumption in my household. I think I’m just full up on politics, period.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          I’m relieved to see so many other people saying they feel the same way. I’ve felt vaguely guilty for being so worn out by it, and it’s nice to see that I have company.

          1. blackcat*

            I feel so, so tired whenever the state of the world comes up. I think about doing what I can when I can in the same vein as putting my own air mask first–I can’t help others if I’m too worn out.

          2. mamabear*

            You’re not alone. Even the people with whom I agree are exhausting me. I’m trying to move the needle in my own way by writing my senators, marching, and basically not being passive about what’s happening in the world, but my anxiety is through the roof right now.

          3. Politically Active But Over It*

            Oh man, THIS! I work at a “nonpartisan” organization and while I’m happy to rant about politics on my lunch hour with trusted friends, I’m pretty sick of talking about the election/ state of affairs when I’m trying to do my work. Reason 8,000 I hate my cubicle!

          4. Lissa*

            I’m here too, and I also feel guilty because I have a bunch of friends whose point of view is basically “this is too important not to talk about all the time, if you stop talking about it you might as well be flipping off minorities/poor people/etc.”. I seriously can’t handle it anymore!

          5. Wendy Darling*

            I also feel a tiny bit guilty but I have my mental health to think of. I am not very productive when I’m stuck in the PIT OF EXISTENTIAL DESPAIR so I limit my consumption to a manageable level and strategically either leave conversations or just shout “NO POLITICS” over whoever has gotten started (it’s usually my mom). I have asked my partner to wear headphones if he’s going to watch the news a few times, or just wandered to another room.

            I have donated and advocated and am generally doing my best to be effective in support of my beliefs but I also need to live my life without feeling like I am going to cry or vomit all the time.

          6. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            You’re not alone, Alison, and the election really shifted how much time I dedicate to discussions re: political current events. It’s become exhausting and draining and depressing—like Wendy noted, it feels like a pit of existential despair. I just don’t have the capacity for managing those feelings and working and trying to be engaged/activist-y. But I find if I cut out the political convos (at least during work), I can muster enough bandwidth to handle the job/activist stuff.

            1. Annie Moose*

              Somewhat ironically, this election was when I was like, “I should pay attention to politics, I never really pay attention to what’s going on in the world and that’s not being a responsible adult.” And then I went from “not caring at all” to “caring SO MUCH it hurts” and I decided I need to back down again–I just can’t handle being worked up about things ALL THE TIME and constantly having some new imaginary battle to fight. So while I still definitely am passionate about certain issues, I need to find a better balance between the political and non-political parts of my life.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I’m so glad it got you activated! I agree that there’s definitely a balance to be struck, but I do think one that weighs towards engagement is better than complete disengagement. I’m pretty engaged with policy/legislative advocacy, etc., so I was probably on the “care so much it hurts” end of the spectrum. I still care, but for self-preservation/sanity reasons, I had to dial back because the sadness can become paralyzing and overwhelming.

                1. Annie Moose*

                  One thing I’ve been trying to do is come up with concrete things I can do about issues that matter to me. (e.g., coming up with a list of organizations I want to donate to or otherwise support) That way, when I start getting into the spiral of feeling helpless about Thing I Perceive As A Horrible Problem, I can remind myself that even if I can’t do anything about this specific issue, I am contributing in other ways.

                  We’ll see if this works. :)

          7. So Very Anonymous*

            Exhausted. And sad. And tired of the implication that sadness = apathy or whatever. I’ve started writing to my bright-red-state senators. But my bandwidth is really limited, and I’ve got to get through work, too. A struggle for me is that I really need a different job, and the impending cuts are making it less and less likely that I will be able to swing that in the near future (if ever?), and that’s a sad and difficult thing to deal with on top of everything else.

            My mom and dad (retired and in their 70s) were REALLY INTO the news before the election. They both got super depressed. My mom just told me that she is allowing herself 3 news check-ins a day, and is spending the time she used to spend on the news reading novels. She likes big Victorian novels and said she’s gotten through 2-3 by now.

            1. metoo*

              I used to consume most of my news on pubic radio on my commutes, but now I’ve switched to audiobooks. Less stressful for me in general.

          8. Elizabeth H.*

            One of the things I’ve been especially bothered by during the entire course of this election and through the present moment is how much time I spend arguing with other Democrats, about things we actually disagree on. (who to blame for the Democratic loss, is identity politics imaginary, etc) I live in MA so it’s kind of a bubble but even among family and friends there is so much to disagree on and I’m so sick of arguing with people who actually share most of my views. I work at an art school so it’s pretty much open season on political views at work, so it’s not like that is a politics free zone either.
            Most of the time I do feel like it’s too important not to talk about lots but I feel like the problem is that everyone is exhausted and wanting a break vs totally riled up at different times.

          9. nofelix*

            Note that this effect may well be intentional. A politically exhausted population is advantageous to politicians who want to act without oversight.

            1. The Strand*

              I agree with you 100%.

              All the more reason to set boundaries where we do, and don’t, talk about the exhausting but important things our planet is going through — this applies as much to people in the EU and UK, Middle East, etc., as much as it applies to North America.

          10. Hellanon*

            I’ve been a serious politics junkie since I was 11 & Nixon was in office (so a *long* time) and I’m at a point where I can’t anymore. I can’t listen, I can’t engage, and I can’t keep getting angry on a daily basis. It’s too much anger, and I don’t know where to put it, and I need to disengage at this point so that I can keep doing the things I am doing…

          11. metoo*

            You are not alone! I used to listen to NPR every morning / evening on my commute and after the election, I switched to audiobooks. I just couldn’t handle anymore politics. Now that I check my newsfeed every couple days (with a full cup of coffee in my system), I’m much happier.

        2. Simonthegreywarden*

          We actually broke our pregnancy news early at Thanksgiving to the parents because I was pretty sure I knew which direction most of my family voted (at least my very opinionated dad), and knew it was pretty polar opposite of how my in-laws (or at least my very outspoken MIL) and husband voted…so we decided to just cut out the middle man and have everyone talk about something else instead of start fights in the middle of the mashed potatoes!

        3. Elise*

          I’m trying to limit myself to just reading the A section of one newspaper a couple times every week to keep up with what’s going on, but trying to avoid the endless Twitter scroll of emotion. I’m not that old, but old enough to remember politics before social media, and they weren’t as emotional for me back then (back then starting with 2000, the first election where I was old enough to vote).

          I also had to tell my mom no politics at Christmukkah – though we agree – because the constant harping about all the horrible things that will happen gave me anxiety (like real, pressure in my chest anxiety). The reality is reality, making yourself sick over it doesn’t change it.

          1. So Very Anonymous*

            Twitter is a nightmare. I’m on doctor’s orders to stay off (massive anxiety) but it’s tough.

        4. vpc*

          My mother banned my father from political discussion at Thanksgiving. First time that’s ever happened; they normally agree.

          I was delighted. I was tired of hearing about it in November, and I haven’t gotten less tired of it. Fortunately most of my office – despite being a government office – is, while not politics-free exactly, at least of the “let’s keep focused on the work please” variety most of the time. I appreciate that.

          1. Maxwell Edison*

            I put out the word before Thanksgiving that anyone who brought up politics in any way, shape, or form at Thanksgiving would be booted from the table and given dry toast and stale Halloween candy instead of turkey and gravy and pie. It worked like a dream.

    1. a different Vicki*

      Yes. Even if you are all violently in agreement, that kind of adrenaline isn’t helpful in that context, or when I’m trying to have a conversation with my mother about what we’ve been up to lately and whether I want certain of her tschotschkes. We can say “I’m glad my brother voted for the same candidate we did” and “I’m sorry you felt like you had to bite your tongue around some of your friends” without getting into why we strongly dislike the other candidate.

    2. Is It Performance Art*

      I can only think of one or two instances when someone making a point of discussing politics at work improved my opinion of them and honestly, that was because I assumed something I shouldn’t have. In most cases, even if we agree 100%, at best I find it annoying. I don’t want to be stuck in a meeting for an extra 10 minutes because someone needed to rant about politics at the start.
      If you really want to change people’s minds, talking about political issues at work is not likely to be effective. Get involved in an organization that works for the causes you believe in.

    3. BRR*

      Yes this! Also to me, it’s been said. I have rarely heard someone point something out that is new and hearing the same thing over and over is exhausting to me as well.

    4. MegaMoose, Esq*

      I’m in one of those “everyone (who talks politics) agrees with me, but OMG please stop talking” workplaces. My project lead is one of the worst offenders. Maybe it’s because I do care passionately about this stuff that I wish we didn’t talk about it at work – if nothing else, I’ll go mad if I can’t get away from it occasionally, not to mention the effect on my productivity. I’ve put on headphones to drown it out more than once.

      1. Kyrielle*

        And actually, this is another good reason not to do it that I really want to draw out – if there are people who are “on your side” and actively engaging outside work, and they spend time/effort dealing with a conversation about it at work, they may spend that much less time/effort on their active engagement because they may need time-away-from-politics more than they need to take action.

        tldr You could actually cause someone who is supporting the cause to be less-supportive of it due to burnout. We all need time away from things, especially things that can be tense/emotionally fraught. For many of us*, it’s accepted that work is largely politics-free and thus a reasonable space to take that time away and focus on other things.

        * Not all workplaces are reasonable, and of course, there are legitimately political workplaces. But for most of us, work is ideally a no-politics or few-politics zone.

    5. justsomeone*

      YES oh my goodness. My husband’s family is like this. We all agree, so all they want to do is sit around and talk about it. Can we just not? I’d be through the roof if that’s how it were at work.

      1. Buffay the Vampire Layer*

        Are you me? My in-laws are like this too – every conversation with them is a look-how-liberal-and-better-than-everyone-we-all-are circlejerk. It’s not productive and I can’t stand getting sucked into those conversations.

      2. sam*

        OMG. my family email chain has basically turned into family twitter, with my parents emailing me pictures and articles and “look at this!” multiple times a day.

        We all VEHEMENTLY AGREE with each other, but it can get exhausting.

        Also, why aren’t I knocking on doors every weekend? say my semi-retired parents who only work 3 days a week, and who aren’t subject to the financial industry pay-to-play rules governing political activity. argh!

        1. Wakeen Teapots, Ltd.*

          I went on a 2.5 month news and social media embargo. Literally, the only place I went online was AAM during my embargo. I had to break off and restore and recharge myself.

          So when my brother (we “vehemently agree” as you say) couldn’t get me to engage with him on Facebook, he started texting me links and trying to start up Con!Ver! Sa! Tions! One on one. Which is worse! I coudn’t get him to stop.

          I finally pleaded mental breakdown. I mean, it wasn’t that far off the mark ;), but I could only get him to stop by telling him he was endangering my mental well being and please text me pictures of my nieces instead.

          1. sam*

            seriously. Every blog I’m a semi-regular commenter on, when they have a “here’s a 100 things to do” thread, I pipe in with “don’t forget that you also need to practice self-care, and if you only have capacity to do one or two things, that’s OK, because everyone can’t do everything and we don’t want everyone to burn out in two weeks”.

            And then I get, like twenty replies thanking me and offering to buy me beers. This is a long haul. It’s not all going to get done in two weeks.

    6. Future Analyst*

      Agreed. I specifically avoid reading the news for blocks of the day, just because I can’t handle the anxiety/heightened blood pressure at all hours of the day. I’d be really frustrated if that came up at work, even if I agree with you.

    7. Tax Accountant*

      Preach. A distant relative of mine votes the same way I do, but I ended up hiding him on facebook because every single dang post was him flipping over tables at how evil the other side is and what terrible people they all are and going on and on and on about every single issue in the most inflammatory way possible. I just could not deal with his constant rage and negativity. It is exhausting. I wish we could all take about a week off and not talk about politics anywhere. That would be a real breath of fresh air.

      I get to hear about people’s political views all the time in my professional life too, which I was (foolishly) not expecting.

      1. paul*

        I unfollowed a long time friendly acquaintance that I occasionally bought animals from for the same reason. I agree with him 99% of the time but when it’s 5-6 post per day about politics, cluttering up my feed, Im’ done.

    8. mcr-red*

      This +100. I’m so tired of politics EVERYWHERE and hearing about it constantly. As you said, even if everyone around you agrees with you, it is exhausting. I didn’t like you-know-who from waaaay back before politics, and it’s like now I get to hear everyone constantly talk about how bad he is. Yes. I know. I’ve known for a long time now. Please can we talk about ANYTHING else?

    9. NK*

      Yes, I completely agree. Even if you have confirmation that your coworkers agree with you, don’t take that to mean they’re up for constant political talk.

    10. Electric Hedgehog*

      Honestly, I find it much less exhausting when there are people with a mix of political views in the discussion, provided that all participants are reasonable, respectful of each other as people and recognize that each side of the political spectrum has valid and legitimate concerns. Feeding each others’ doom and gloom is boring, depressing, and counter productive, and railing against the media’s coverage of the POTUS and his team is boring, annoying, and also counter productive. I’m all for people getting involved in politics, whether by donating time or money, or actually serving in office. I’m short on patience with people who only want to poke others in the eye – particularly now.

    11. turquoisecow*

      Yes. I married into a family that LOVES to talk politics, and while we all generally agree, I would just rather discuss ANYTHING other than what’s going on in the world sometimes. Maybe it’s because I come from a family where I don’t even know how my parents voted – and I’m totally okay with that – but I’m just so tired of the constant political talk.

    12. LBK*

      Agreed. I try to keep everything politic on Twitter, so I can shut the app and walk away when I’m too overwhelmed by it.

  6. AMG*

    “and feel the need to express that firmly in all facets of my life.”
    I don’t care if your passion is rainbow kittens. I would run screaming from this. Please. Do. Not.

    1. MommaTRex*

      I would so be up for a little talk of rainbow kittens right now. It would be a lovely change of pace.

      1. AMG*

        Ah, me too. So much more interesting than what I am currently working on. Or supposed to be working on.

      2. Venus Supreme*

        No rainbow kittens, but my one-eared black and white cat has recently taken a preference to sitting on the bathtub sill. It’s cute until you think you’re alone in the bathroom and the shower curtain starts moving…

        1. FormerLibrarian*

          I saw a lawn sign for SMOD 2016 on one of the major back roads in the next town over this year.

    2. Observer*

      Very, very true.

      If you have a spouse / SO / Children / Living parents, I’m sure you have very strong feelings about them too. Please don’t express them firmly in all facets of your life.

      If you have a cause you’ve been invested in since the day you were old enough to think about these thing, you obviously have a passion for it. Still, please don’t do that. Even if it’s helping the starving children in Biafra or something.

      Just NO.

  7. Recruit-o-Rama*

    Don’t. One of my co-workers has several buttons, hats, shirts, etc with slogans for her preferred political views, some of which I agree with. But, as we are out and about together often it has lead to many interactions and confrontations that I found distracting and discomforting and I hate traveling with her now. Be passionate about politics on your own time.

  8. TheOtherJennifer*

    Politics do not belong in the workplace. Please do not for all the reasons listed above.

    1. HR Jeanne*

      Agreed. One of the best things about my current office is that no one mentioned the presidential race even once, other than to note that some of the possible changes in employment law that may effect us in 2017, as we are in Human Resources. It is such a professional atmosphere, and a relief from everywhere else. We are able to accomplish so much together because we are not talking politics. Please don’t bring this where it doesn’t belong.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Yep. Exjob had a thing where we could make complaints anonymously on the company intranet (the PTB could see who it was but not the readers). Several items appeared in people’s cubes, and I finally had to make one about electioneering at work after an unknown person left a lurid tabloid with a screaming anti-Hillary headline in plain sight on the break room table.

      People walked around and side-eyed it. Some picked it up and then put it down again. I finally went in there about 3 pm and shoved it deep into the bin. FWIW, a bigwig agreed with my complaint, right there on the page for everyone to see, and it didn’t happen again.

        1. MommaTRex*

          I would have. I am firmly on one side, but screaming anti- or pro- anything political at work? DUMPSTER TIME! Don’t care what side.

              1. Electric Hedgehog*

                Oh no! Not at all! Screaming nasty headlines left passive aggressively around the office is alienating. Throwing them out is a reasonable response, as long as you’re not just throwing out the ones you personally disagree with.

          1. Electric Hedgehog*

            I only ask because she specified. And frankly, there’s been a lot of really, really overt anti-Trump headlines post election. No attempt to appear unbiased from pretty much any major news source.

            1. KellyK*

              I won’t ask what headlines specifically you take issue with, because that’s getting too far into politics, but I would point out that a factual, verifiable description of someone’s actions isn’t necessarily biased if those actions are negative. A lot of headlines seemed to go the opposite way, repeating a candidate’s or politician’s claims, while only mentioning way down in the headline that they weren’t true. A lot of papers seemed reluctant to appear critical and therefore had really wishy-washy headlines that obscured the actual events.

              If, for example, Governor Wakeen threw hot coffee on an intern, and this is a verifiable fact, “Wakeen throws hot coffee on intern” is a much more objective and less biased headline than “Intern alleges Wakeen behaved inappropriately” even though the second one hedges and gives both sides.

        2. Jessie the First (or second)*

          Hedgehog, now we risk veering into politics talk, which is really not what we are supposed to do. The point of the comment is that there was something incredibly political at the office. Let’s not argue with posters about whether they are biased or whether one political party/person/cause doesn’t get fair treatment or something.

          1. Electric Hedgehog*

            That’s fair. But the tone of this comment thread as a whole has, for the most part, been pretty anti-Trump. Just making sure that the more conservative side of the commentariat doesn’t feel alienated.

            1. MommaTRex*

              The OP was pretty clear about which way she leans. So I think you are hearing a lot of from people who agree with her politics because perhaps we feel like she be more likely to listen to us and then realize that politics at work can be offensive to EVERYONE.

              1. MommaTRex*

                We are actually trying to show some support for the conservative side, too. Like we understand you don’t want to see this stuff at work either. (I’m hoping this is one thing we could all agree on – leave the politics outside the office.)

                (and please excuse my typo above – it should read “…feel like she would be more likely…”)

            2. GirlwithaPearl*

              Seriously? The conservative side won. I’m not gonna cry if they feel slightly alienated in the comments.

              Sorest winners ever.

        3. The Strand*

          Electioneering is electioneering, regardless of who the person is supporting – and it’s ten times worse when it’s not, say, some candidates’ plank but a tabloid, or an article or video by someone who is partisan and yelly.

          I stopped patronizing an independent coffee house which put signs on the door telling people of a certain political party they would get a discount with proof of voting, partisan posters, and which had a partisan tabloid printed up on every table. As a moderate I have friends along the political continuum, but I don’t want any politics in my face at a business, or at the office. The exception I make is a rainbow flag designating a safe space.

          I am especially shocked by the the doctors, dentists and therapists described in AAM as inflicting their political opinions on their patients. I want to reiterate that this is behavior that goes against professionalism requirements and that people who experience this should complain.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            Hit submit too soon–I absolutely would have tossed it either way. The day after the election, I was miserable. There was no talk of politics in the office, for which I was eternally grateful. If one person had expressed jubilation or commiseration to me, I would have busted out crying and had to go home for the day. But I got fired for unrelated reasons two days later, so it didn’t matter anymore.

            I won’t discuss politics at work. However, on my own social media, I am not holding back. Enter at your own risk.

  9. Elemeno P.*

    I think the symbols of inclusion and respect that Alison mentioned are the best way to make your feelings known without goading anyone into an argument (in fact, it might stop potentially inflammatory comments). For example, my work has a large LGBTQ network, and I have a few pins up in my cube from my activity in that network, as well as one on my work lanyard. It’s a message of inclusion (and a work-sponsored one, at that) that also happens to give a pretty clear indication of my politics, so people are more likely to steer away from inflammatory topics of conversation.

    1. Venus Supreme*

      I agree- I work in the arts and there’s a country-wide Project going on that all arts organizations can be a part of. There’s absolutely no mention of politics anywhere in this Project, but it promotes inclusion, compassion, and kindness and gives resources for orgs to make their spaces safer for people of all walks of life. The Project also has pledges that orgs/individuals will be “lights” in the future. I’ve publicly committed to this Project as an individual and was personally shocked and thrilled that friends from both sides of the political spectrum have supported this cause. And my organization was worried that this pledge wold come off “too liberal”!

      So I think there’s definitely a way that OP can articulate where she’s coming from without offending others who don’t share her political view. If there’s a network like what your company has or a resource organization like I have, it’s an appropriately-vagueish way to make a statement without igniting a debate.

  10. Just Another Techie*

    I wonder where the line is drawn between messages of inclusion and politics that aren’t okay for the workplace? Rainbow sticker is pretty clearly fine in my workplace, but what about an “I’ll go with you” button on my backpack? Or one of those “All are welcome” signs with the phrase repeated in English/Spanish/Arabic/Hebrew/Chinese/other language of oppressed minority groups? I’m not trying to nitpick or rules lawyer, but I have personally struggled with what things are appropriate to display on my bag or in my cube. (FWIW my workplace is pretty informal and people have all kinds of art, pictures, flyers advertising meetup groups or chorale performances, etc all over their cube walls. And no one in my office is customer-facing.)

    1. Leatherwings*

      I think all the examples you gave are examples of support/inclusion/equality. I think the line is drawn at things that are openly partisan.

    2. AnotherAnon*

      Personally, I’d say that both of your examples are fine – they’re specifically inclusive and don’t explicitly indicate political opinion.
      I’d say the difference is more something like a rainbow sticker (being okay, because it’s general and inclusive) versus a sticker with two “female” or “male” symbols (not being as okay, because it’s so specific and doesn’t include everyone).

      1. Leatherwings*

        I disagree with the two female/male symbol stickers. To me, a rainbow sticker is pretty clear in the message it conveys in the same way the male/female stickers would be. That’s not necessarily partisan. And I also don’t think that all stickers signaling inclusion/equality need to be inclusive of everyone (otherwise we have to litigate whether, say, a Human Rights Campaign sticker is inclusive of trans rights and that’s a bit much).

        I do think that an “Obama for same-sex marriage” sticker would cross the line because that conveys allegiance/support of a specific politician or political party. It’s expressly partisan in the way saying “I accept gay people” isn’t.

        1. AnotherAnon*

          I suppose it depends on your context, though I agree that the symbol doesn’t need to include absolutely everyone (and I agree with your example of the “Obama” sticker. Whereas I’ve only ever seen the two female symbols used more politically, and I’ve seen it strongly associated with “gold-star” and “political” lesbians, so it comes across as partisan for me and I’d consider a rainbow sticker to be preferable in the workplace since it’s more general. It definitely depends on the context, though – I’m sure to some, a rainbow sticker would be more political than they’d like, too!

      1. Meg*

        It’s a message of solidarity with trans people over the restroom issue, literally meaning “I’ll go with you” to the restroom if that will make you feel safer.

        1. Sensual Shirtwaist*

          that’s good to know. I assumed it was a statement about mass deportations\religious registries. Which would be too political, even as it is also a statement of inclusion in the wearers eyes.

      2. Trig*

        I think that one refers to trans/genderqueer folks using washrooms. The idea is that if they aren’t comfortable using the washroom of their choice alone, they can ask the pin/sticker-wearer to go with them.

    3. KellyK*

      The “I’ll go with you” button sounds perfectly appropriate to me, and I’d hope any workplace that’s okay with a rainbow sticker would be okay with it. For what it’s worth, I have one on my purse, and no one in my workplace has mentioned it, although I know I work with people who are…less than supportive of the ideas behind it.

    4. Meg*

      I struggle with this too. I have two small enamel pins that I wear, an American flag and a “This is what an intersectional feminist looks like.” I sometimes wear them on outerwear or a bag, but I feel like wearing them on my inside clothing is crossing a bit of a line.

      1. Emi.*

        Agreed. Wearing them on your inside clothing looks like “I put this on my outfit for today to make a point in this situation,” whereas a button on a jacket is more like “I have this on my jacket generally,” like a bumper sticker.

      2. misplacedmidwesterner*

        My current struggle: I knit a hat for the march this weekend. My previous hat was worn out and I’m fairly happy with how it turned out, plus it was super comfy yarn. So I’ve been wearing it around town for the last couple days. I wear it into work, take it off, put it in my jacket pocket, and don’t pull it out until I’m leaving. But it is a fairly recognizable symbol and I work in a public building/office. appropriate to be wearing in and out of the building?

        1. Emi.*

          I would say it’s probably fine as far as coworkers are concerned (and I’m not even a fan of those hats), since taking it off when you get there sort of designates it as an “outside of work” hat. By public office, do you mean you’d be seen by clients/customers/whoever and it could affect their perception of your workplace? That seems like the only issue to me.

          1. misplacedmidwesterner*

            I arrive before clients get here so that isn’t an issue. I could be seen by clients when I leave if I put my hat on as I leave my office/walk across the public area, but I usually just slip it on as I leave through the staff entrance.

            I’m one of those knitters who tends to give everything away, so a hat that I like that I made for me with yarn I like is such a novelty. (Yarn was a gift from a friend that I had for years until the “right” project came along.)

          2. Emi.*

            I’m going to amend/qualify this. I was only thinking of it as “is this too political?”, but I actually think it’s too vulgar for work.

            1. Kelly L.*

              IDK, it doesn’t actually resemble the female anatomy; it vaguely resembles a literal cat. You have to know the context to get the double meaning. And cat ear hats existed before this ever happened.

              And yeah, most people do know the context now, but it reminds me of a discussion elsewhere about whether it’s too vulgar to read Fifty Shades on the bus or train. I argued no, because the actual covers are clean; you have to know what the book’s about to find it dirty.

              1. Emi.*

                My rule of thumb is that if an obscene slur is inappropriate in a given context, then so is a coy reference to that slur.

        2. Meg*

          Agree with Emi. I think the same distinction applies. Also, I saw someone wearing one this morning during commuting hours.

        3. thebluecastle*

          Unfortunately I think that hat might be a little too iconic/associated with the march last weekend for the office. What if you knitted a hat in a different pattern (maybe without the “ears”?) out of the same color yarn? Is that weird? Then it could still hold similar meaning for you but if anyone expressed any discomfort/unkindess about it you could point out that its just a pink hat, not a specific march associated pink hat. Maybe I’m just being really non-confrontational though :/

          1. misplacedmidwesterner*

            Honestly, I probably should just knit myself a new hat. I used to knit a ton for myself. But I’ve given almost everything I’ve knit away for the last five years or so. (Or only knit for my kids.) I should go back to knitting selfishly. :)

        4. MommaTRex*

          If you’re talking about a hat that depicts a female body part, I think I would leave it for wearing on nonwork days. It seems a little dodgy for work. Even people who support your cause might raise the eyebrows a bit, while they wouldn’t if they saw you at the grocery store.

          1. Emi.*

            I think it’s a hat that resembles the ears a fuzzy animal with a name that sounds like a slur for a female body part. I still think they’re gross, but I think you could get away with it in this situation.

              1. Emi.*

                Yeah, I’m going to qualify my comments above by saying that I wouldn’t nix the hat for being too political (since it’s not being worn *at work*), but I do think it’s outside the bounds of good taste.

              2. Lablizard*

                It is a square hat. I have one in blue long before all of this because I kind of suck at crocheting so had to stitch 2 squares together. Isn’t it a bit of a stretch to call it vulgar?

              1. leslie knope*

                i wonder if these people have not actually seen the hat, because they aren’t at all “explicit”…

                1. MommaTRex*

                  I’ve seen tons of them, but I also know what they are called, and it isn’t in reference to a cat.

        5. turquoisecow*

          Can you turn it inside out or something, so it just looks like a normal hat? Like, hide the “ears” inside? You can then make it more political when you want it to be and more neutral if necessary.

          1. SarahTheEntwife*

            The standard pattern doesn’t actually have separate ears sewn on — it’s just a rectangle, and the “ears” happen because of the way it wraps around the head, so turning it inside out would just make a cat-ear hat with a slightly different texture. One reason it was such a massively successful effort is that the pattern is incredibly simple to make.

        6. Elizabeth West*

          I love the hats and I would wear one (I’m also the weirdo who wears a Yoda hat with ears that a friend made for me, haha). But I didn’t march (my knee was being a jerk) and I would feel weird wearing it if I didn’t actually go.

    5. Brett*

      Just be prepared to explain in case people do not know the meaning.
      As an example, “All are welcome” has some very loaded religious history with it before its current incarnation, and many people will know the religious history without knowing the current use.

      1. KellyK*

        I’m curious about the loaded history. Is it something to do with church signs that proclaim “All are welcome,” when that may not be the case in practice? (I did Google it, but all I found was a bunch of churches using it, and one religious writer arguing that it was too wishy washy and PC.)

              1. Elizabeth West*

                There are scenes set in “the light” in my book (Tunerville), and yes, EVERYBODY is welcome. In fact, if the book ever comes out, I suspect I would have to flee the state, LOL.

          1. Rat in the Sugar*

            Heh, I hope you’re not talking about that old hymn that’s stuck in my head now…let us buuuuild a house whe-ere love can dwell, and all can safe-ly-y liiiiiiive…

            1. Sparkly Librarian*

              *blink* I didn’t know that hymn had negative history attached. We sang it all the time in the progressive LGBT church I attended. Maybe it was reclaimed and the older/raised in traditional churches people were singing it with different intent based on that knowledge?

              1. Emi.*

                Wait, what negative history? I just thought it was an aesthetic clusterfudge, along with Alllll are weh-elcome in this plaaace. (Or are they the same one? All bland foods taste alike.)

              2. Rat in the Sugar*

                What?? No, no, I just mean that it’s a hymn that I like! It’s one of my favorites! And as far as I know, the intent of the song is exactly what it says: all are welcome. Personally I’m really confused by Brett saying there was a negative connotation; not a single person here has explained why…

                1. AthenaC*

                  I’m happy for you that you like it! It just happens to be one of my LEAST favorite songs. Matter of taste and preferences either way.

      2. Brett*

        I didn’t mean _negative_ religious connotation, just that it has a very heavy religious history.
        That means it could easily be interpreted as a religious message and a mild proselytizing message at that. Religion in the workplace can be just as touchy as politics in the workplace.

    6. Amber Rose*

      Be general. Inclusion and equality are the default, I would think. Even legally. It’s not really against the grain to say something like “all are welcome” since that’s pretty general and there should be no argument that reasonable people can make against it.

      It’s just when you start to drag in specifics. If you get away from the general and into details, then you start to get into the parts where people split also. Replace “all” with “refugees” and now you could be seen as picking a fight with people on the other side of that particular conversation.

      1. Emi.*

        But if your message is the default, what’s the point of a sticker? You’d only put up a sticker if (you believe that) it’s not actually the default, and has to be advocated for. So depending on the specific sticker, it could start looking like a pointed statement that I’m inclusive, unlike all you jerks. (I don’t think this is an issue with “inclusion” stickers generally, but they should be chosen carefully.)

        1. Amber Rose*

          It’s the default from a practical standpoint, not necessarily a legal or political one. Sadly.

      2. Rusty Shackelford*

        Inclusion and equality are the default

        If that were the case, I don’t think people would be fighting for them.

    7. Sue Wilson*

      If it’s negative towards a group or expresses a group’ validation in ways that some might take as superiority, then it’s probably a problem.

    8. blackcat*

      I’ve been wondering this, too. I have a Southern Poverty Law Center mug at work. The SPLC logo is small but the slogan “Fighting hate, teaching tolerance, seeking justice” text is big and readable from far away. While I don’t always bring it when I teach (university setting), I sometimes do. I also have students come by my desk sometimes, and my desk is open to other grad students and faculty. Politics doesn’t come up at all in my teaching (science).

  11. Aurora Leigh*

    Sort of related, recently my coworkers and boss have expreseed sentiments along the lines of “people have no right to protest”, which I find deeply upsetting because as Americans we DO have that right.

    What can I say the next time it comes up that won’t me sound like a typical “millenial” ? I’m the newest and youngest by a lot in my department, but I have a good reputation so far.

    1. Bend & Snap*

      Honestly at work I just walk away whistling. It’s not the place to take a stand on things like that, it could impact your reputation and employment and you’re not going to change anyone’s mind.

      If the COMPANY is officially expressing these views, that’s totally different–look at the woman who quit and wrote a letter to the CEO of IBM on her public and official political support.

      If they’re personal views, make a mental note and walk away.

      1. Argh!*

        Ask if you should refer to him as “My Aryan Overlord” … or simply ignore this stuff. I will disagree in the mildest possible terms that indicate an unwillingness to join in, such as “Oh really? I hadn’t noticed that” in reply to some derogatory statement.

        1. EddieSherbert*

          I’m a fan of the confused or mildly shocked “excuse me?!”

          It takes a really. special. person. to actually respond and continue their train of thought (once it’s awkwardly pointed out).

          So same train of thought as both AMG and Argh!’s suggestions!

      2. Zombeyonce*

        I like to recognize that they can say what they want (because it seems like all racists love reminding you about freedom of speech) but remind them that there are still consequences to espousing their racist views:
        “You’re entitled to your opinion, no matter how outdated/backwards/wrong,” or “You’re entitled to your opinion, no matter how it makes you look/come across.”

        They can’t even get mad at your because you’re not even actually saying you disagree.

        1. Liane*

          Also, people that “love reminding you about freedom of speech” need reminding politely that the Bill of Rights only bars government from restricting ” freedom of speech,” not other entities.

      3. Clever Name*

        If it’s a “joke” or if they think they’re being funny, I am incapable of getting such jokes and ask the teller to explain to me why what they said is funny (this one leads to stammering, stilted explanations, and awkward silences). I’ve also said to my boss, “I’m not racist! I just say things that racist people say.” (I’m obviously beloved at work)

      4. Not So NewReader*

        “Let’s not go there.”
        “Whoops, not comfy here.” (or: not comfortable here]

        “Can’t say anything to that.” [pretend to wander off to another task]
        “I don’t think that is a road we want to start down.”

        Be prepared that a person actually may not understand what is wrong with what they just said. If you are going to do these comebacks and you are faced with a sincere question then give a sincere explanation. I have found myself explaining where words were derived from and people might react in an incredulous manner. I will suggest that they use an online dictionary from home so they can see for themselves what the word is.

        There are some things that are so over the line I just go straight to reporting them.

      5. Emi.*

        “Please don’t say things like that around me.” I’d avoid getting into whether they should be saying it at all, as trying as that may be.

      6. Electric Hedgehog*

        Play dumb – “Sorry, I don’t get it. What do you mean when you say that? But why would Judaism be involved? Oh, you were being dumb? Ok, maybe don’t do that anymore.”

      7. Brett*

        How mild?

        I hear mildly prejudiced comments all the time about my ethnicity, but the vast majority of the time people have no idea they are prejudiced. In that situation, simply raising awareness to the boss could be helpful instead of a comeback.
        (And that is outside the huge standing argument among people of my ethnicity of which terms are correct and which terms are offensive. That debate even has its own extensive wikipedia entry. The term I have used for nearly my entire life is considered extremely offensive by some people of my ethnicity, particularly editors at the LA Times :) Meanwhile, ancestral/national origin terms are preferred by people of my ethnicity even though many people outside this ethnicity think those terms are offensive as well.)

      8. Kat M*

        “What a strange thing to say,” with a deadpan stare usually does it for me.

        Although I have friends who swear by Tim Wise’s approach: “You know my mom is Black/Jewish/whatever.” Not really workplace friendly, but really effective at stopping people in social settings. Adoption is so common you don’t even have to look like it could possibly be true.

    2. ZSD*

      I think I would point out to them that the First Amendment protects both the right to free speech and the right to assemble.
      The hard part is saying this calmly and non-aggressively.

    3. AMG*

      I agree with you but I would probably ignore it. What do you or anyone else stand to gain by arguing the constitution with your boss or coworkers?

      1. Aurora Leigh*

        I know . . . It just REALLY upsets me. I mean I was literally shaking and my heart was racing so bad. I really wish they would just not bring up. One co-worker was saying protesters should be shot and miming gunfire.

        1. AMG*

          That’s just hateful but you have to pretend like you are watching a movie…Alison said that once somewhere. Pretend like you are just watching a crazy TV show and know that they are just full of crap.

        2. Gandalf the Nude*

          If someone at work said that in earshot of me, I would have to say, “Really? You think I should be shot?”

          And if they didn’t walk it back, I might take it up the chain because wishing violence on a coworker seems like a pretty serious deal to me.

          1. Clickety-Clack*

            I’ve used, “Why would you say that?” or, more mildly, “What a thing to say,” and found it shut things down effectively.

        3. Not So NewReader*

          One individual kept discussing violent things at work. I just reported them to the boss. Since I very seldom complain my complaint here stood out.
          I see no reason to have to listen to any talk of violence while I am working. In the case I reported it had been going on for a while, I finally got fed up.

    4. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If you want to get into it, point out that our country was founded on civil disobedience — the Boston Tea Party, for example — and that in fact nothing is more American that speaking out when we disagree with our political leaders.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        I remember in my early years of grammar school a teacher saying countries that are basically strong allow protests. The country knows it is resilient. Fragile governments/countries do not allow protests, because the protest may bring their country/government right down.

        I have held on to that all these years.

        1. Gandalf the Nude*

          Ooh, it’s a lot like how strong managers don’t have to resort to yelling or micromanaging because they have more effective tools at their disposal. They don’t need to yell because they’re secure in their position.

          Basically, Green/Awkward 2020.

    5. a different Vicki*

      How about “I believe in the United States constitution, which protects our inalienable rights”? Position yourself as middle-of-the-road respectable and slightly old-fashioned.

    6. paul*

      I’ve started just closing my door. TBH the one coworker (who is out sick today, thank goodness) is so delusional that it isn’t worth it. Clinton body count, confiscating all 401ks to pay off debts, protestors are all rioters, yadda yadda yadda…there’s not much I can say that’ll get through to that

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Here I would try, “I don’t come to work to discuss political issues. I am here to do a job.”

    7. Lablizard*

      I might go all innocent and ask, “Wasn’t the Boston Tea Party a protest? I mean they even destroyed private property when they threw the tea off the ship’s, didn’t they.” One of the (few) great things about being perceived to be young and dumb is that you can ask questions that make people explain themselves (and hopefully think) without being offensive

    8. Kate*

      My favorite thing is to ask “But what about the Tea Party?”. And if they misunderstand I mention, “Well the Boston Tea Party didn’t just peacefully protest, they actually caused thousands of pounds of property damage, but we still venerate them.” Some people might come back and say “That was against the British, that was different.”, but I find it quiets most people and makes them think, and at least the basic principle is established in their minds.

  12. Bend & Snap*

    I don’t think a rainbow sticker is necessarily political, and it should be fine anywhere.

    If it expresses your identity it’s not political and is fair game. If it expresses your political views, probably best to leave it out of the office.

    Also on the flip side, sometimes it’s better not to know things about people. I certainly have seen some sides of people that I wish I didn’t know about. Your politics may affect people you respect that way.

    1. Andy*

      Devil’s advocate: is a traditional marriage sticker therefore also okay to display? That’s not a political thing, it’s part of my beliefs and therefore my identity.

      1. AMG*

        That falls on the side of exclusion so I think it’s different. Nobody is going to judge you for being what is perceived as ‘too tolerant’ but they certainly will judge you for being perceived as being ‘intolerant’. It creates bad feelings and is therefore unprofessional.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Nobody is going to judge you for being what is perceived as ‘too tolerant’

          Yes they are. Maybe not in your corner of the world, but this is absolutely A Thing.

          1. AMG*

            I thought about that after I typed it. True. I suppose you could say that you will be judged less harshly for being too tolerant versus coming across as intolerant. But again, there are plenty of places where that won’t apply either.

          2. Emi.*

            I don’t think people judge others for being “too tolerant.” They judge them for the social/political coercion they associate with messages of “tolerance,” or for the annoyingly condescending and splainy ways these messages are often expressed.

            1. JB (not in Houston)*

              Oh no, people definitely judge others for being “too tolerant.” I was raised by a family of such people and have worked with many others. And I’ve worked with many others who feel like they are being preached at if anyone so much expresses a different view (I’m not directing that at you, I’m referring to several of my former coworkers).

          3. LJL*

            Oh, they absolutely will. Not often but I’ve seen it happen. And professionally, it can say “lack of fit.”

        2. Electric Hedgehog*

          Uh, it’s a legitimate, closely held belief for a huge, huge portion of the country. If a rainbow sticker is ok, I don’t think anyone should give a traditional marriage symbol any grief. You don’t get to decide that a person’s religion is wrong any more than they’d get to decide that a marriage of homosexual consenting adults is wrong. Not everyone has to agree with the more liberal side of the country all the time.

          1. HRChick*

            There is a difference between being for a group of people and being against a group of people.

            As a bi-sexual woman, a traditional marriage sticker would let me know that you don’t see me as an equal. That’s a lot different than telling me you do think I am an equal.

            It also makes me think that you want to trade me for a parcel of land or something, if we’re going traditional :-P

            1. Electric Hedgehog*

              Not at all. Coming from a family and culture that leans heavily to the traditional marriage side, I don’t think that’s it at all. Rather, I feel like most of those who are so vocal about their beliefs there feel marginalized by the current values held by society as a whole, and have chosen to plant a flag in that field. (BTW, I am personally all for LGBTQ marriages, for reference. I don’t give a crap what two consenting adults do with each other.)

              1. fposte*

                I think the issue with a traditional marriage sticker (and I kind of hate we’re going down the rabbit hole on such a hypothetical) is that the way it was postulated makes it about restricting other people. An aisle-crossing parallel might be a gun control sticker. Stuff that says “You shouldn’t be able to do what you’re currently doing” is inappropriately provocative at work.

                1. aebhel*

                  This is my thought. I see nothing wrong with a cross, or a sticker indicating allegiance to a particular church with conservative views on marriage, but a traditional marriage sticker kinda falls in the same category as a gun control sticker; its whole point is that a particular subgroup of Americans should be restricted from doing something they have a constitutional right to do. That strikes me as confrontational in a way that, say, a hunting decal or a rainbow flag sticker doesn’t.

              2. HRChick*

                Right, but even if it is “your” tradition, you’re still telling me, a coworker, that your tradition should mandate my life because my relationships aren’t good enough for marriage.

                Trying to tell me I shouldn’t be able to do something that has no impact on how you live your life and practice your tradition is going to tell me that you feel that I am sub-par and other not-so-nice things that you probably don’t want to communicate to an employee.

          2. Jessie the First (or second)*

            That’s not the point of the rainbow sticker, generally.

            So, usually, it’s about making sure people you counsel/teach/work with/manage know you are inclusive, you won’t be making an issue out of anything, there will be no discrimination regardless.

            It therefore has an actual application to the work space. If I had a sign that said something specifically about marriage in my office – whether supporting current laws and same-sex marriage, or advocating against current laws and supporting our prior laws – that would be inappropriate; what application does it have in my workplace, after all? (That’d be zero. Zero application.)

            1. Jessie the First (or second)*

              (That is, the rainbow sticker at work – when I used to work for schools, that is why some people posted it. Obviously, out and about in the world, people attach all sorts of meanings to it.)

            2. Lissa*

              Yeah, the actual corollary would be a sticker that says “heterosexual couples welcome here!” “we’re OK with straights!” or something like that. It’s very very different, IMO.

          3. Alton*

            What if someone’s religion teaches that some races are superior to others, or that women shouldn’t be allowed to work out of the home? Just because something is a religious belief doesn’t mean that expressing it isn’t prejudiced. Some people sincerely believe that anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their faith will go to hell, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay for them to harass their co-workers over that. The difference between a rainbow sticker and a “traditional marriage” sticker is that the latter is expressing prejudice against a group of people.

            1. Electric Hedgehog*

              They still have a right to it, even if you don’t like it or agree to it, provided that they practice that religion within the confines of the law.

              Since no one here is able to describe what a ‘traditional marriage sticker’ would even look like, it’s hard to say what people would be expressing. But I’d bet my socks that it’s much less about expressing prejudice towards gay people and more (at least in the eyes of those who advocate for it) about preserving their religious beliefs – including the belief that God has set a standard for marriage to consist of a man and woman.

              1. Alton*

                But people aren’t allowed to express whatever beliefs they have at work. They have a right to have those views, but both individual companies and state/federal law can create rules about behavior and speech that is discriminatory against a group that’s protected by antidiscrimination laws or policies.

                1. Electric Hedgehog*

                  Yes. Sorry, I believe I misunderstood your original comment. I missed a key word or two. :)

              2. Temperance*

                I’ve seen these. They usually say something offensive like “Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve”, or they just advertise National Organization for Marriage. The more offensive ones contain graphic scripture verses explaining why homosexuality is wrong.

          4. NotAnotherManager!*

            You don’t get to decide that a person’s religion is wrong any more than they’d get to decide that a marriage of homosexual consenting adults is wrong. Not everyone has to agree with the more liberal side of the country all the time.

            You’re right, but opposition to a “traditional marriage” symbol isn’t necessarily saying that a person’s religion in wrong but rather that religious beliefs should NOT be codified into the laws of the land. Those are beliefs that people are welcome to hold for themselves, within their homes, families, church communities, etc. It is the use of the allegedly-separated-from-church government to codify and enforce religious beliefs as discriminatory laws that this becomes a problem, and advocating for “traditional marriage” within a workplace crosses a line that symbols of inclusiveness does not. Religions have more leeway to discriminate; the government should not.

          5. I'm Okay, It's Okay, Everything's fine.*

            The difference is that a rainbow sticker is inclusive, while a traditional marriage symbol is not inclusive because it doesn’t include marriages that are not M/F identified. To speak to your point, a traditional marriage symbol with an X through it would ALSO not be inclusive, because it is not inclusive of people who believe in traditional marriage.

            I can fly a rainbow flag that symbolizes all genders can marry each other: M/M, F/F, M/F, so traditional marriages are included.

            (see Alison’s answer)

          6. JM60*

            Announcing in the workplace that you think you boss shouldn’t be allowed to marry his or her loved one should be grounds for termination. It’s extremely offensive and personal. That’s what you’re doing when you’re announcing you support of “traditional marriage” (code for being against same-sex marriage), except it might be a co-worker instead of you boss, or you boss’ child, a co-worker’s sibling, or a co-worker’s parents.

            The difference between announcing support vs opposition to same-sex marriage in the workplace is that one is inclusive, and the other is exclusive and intrinsically offensive.

            If I were in charge, and an employee voiced their opinion that I shouldn’t be allowed to marry by boyfriend, whether they know that they’re talking about me or not, I’d probably fire them if I don’t absolutely need to keep them. By expressing that opinion, they’ve demonstrated that they have an abject lack of respect for me and the many other people who are affected, directly or indirectly, by same-sex relationships.

            And no, being against the rights of your gay co-workers isn’t legitimate, even if that bigotry is popular. History is full of injustices, big or small, that were very popular at the time.

      2. EddieSherbert*

        Oh, I’m genuinely interested in others’ thoughts on this… My first thought was “no, that would be religious” and I usually throw both religion and politics in the “not at work” part of my brain.

        But then I did feel a bit weird about that reaction (…because I mentally okayed the one but not the flipside). So I’m not sure.

        1. Temperance*

          Well one of them is signaling that you are open and accepting to a group of people, and another is signaling that you are not, which is the difference. It’s kind of akin to hanging a confederate flag in your office vs. an American flag.

      3. J.B.*

        What does a traditional marriage sticker constitute? I think the difference between a traditional marriage sticker and a rainbow sticker is that “traditional” marriage has had the support of it forever and until recently there was no gay marriage in this country and it’s far from being guaranteed. Same thing (to me) with a confederate flag, although some argue passionately to keep it.

        You can’t separate items from their time. I know that several of my coworkers have politics opposite to mine and I think we could have a fine discussion – but not as long as we are coworkers. If they want to ask me about a safety pin I’ll calmly explain – but only on a societal level, never down to the individual level.

      4. Morning Glory*

        I would find nothing offensive about a positive expression of your religious beliefs, like a cross necklace, or a sticker with your congregation’s name on it, etc.

        But like AMG says, a “traditional marriage” sticker is inherently exclusionary. It exists to be exclusionary – that is its purpose. So that’s very different.

        1. blackcat*

          To me things that are in the same ball part as the rainbow sticker could be a cross, jesus fish symbol thing (sorry, don’t know what they’re called), menorah, star of David, crescent symbol, a “don’t tread on me” snake, and similar things. Those are all different than text advocating specific laws (such as outlawing gay marriage).

          1. AnonAnalyst*

            Yes, this is the comparison I would make. The rainbow sticker doesn’t solely represent same-sex marriage. I think that most people that display it are thinking of it as a broader symbol, not a statement on one specific issue. So a cross, star of David, or crescent symbol are more equivalent in my mind, and any of those would be fine in places I’ve worked.

          2. KellyK*

            It’s called an ichthys, which works as an acrostic in 1st century Greek. Ichthys means fish, and the letters stand for “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” The story behind it (which may or may not be true, we’re talking about the first century) is that it was used as a symbol for fellow Christians to identify each other without broadcasting “Hi, I’m a member of a banned religion!”

      5. Ask a Manager* Post author

        “Identity” in this context means things you don’t choose, like your race or your national origin, not your political beliefs.

        A sticker stating that you think some of your coworker deserve fewer rights than others is not appropriate for work.

        1. Electric Hedgehog*

          Alison, I strongly, strongly disagree. Sometimes your political beliefs are fundamentally tied to religious beliefs – which are so much part of a person’s identity that they are protected at the same level as race, gender, and national origin.

          Stating that people can’t have or display those beliefs – however much you disagree with them – is also saying that you think those people should have ewer rights. However, I agree that those beliefs should not be given first priority, and that through the wonders of democracy everyone should have equal rights and protections under the law.

          1. LJL*

            No one’s saying “don’t have those beliefs.” they’re just saying “don’t discuss your opinions at work. ” Big difference.

            1. Electric Hedgehog*

              No, what Alison was saying – and correct me if I’m wrong, please – is that religiously based political beliefs are not part of a person’s intrinsic identity. I really, strongly disagree with that.

              I’m not so much visualizing a sticker as say, a CTR ring, a framed copy of the ‘Family: A proclamation to the World’ statement, or a wedding photo in front of a Mormon temple. Since Mormons are generally equated with the traditional marriage lobby, would the overt display of deeply held beliefs (generally held equivalent to a specific political position), be given the same leeway as a rainbow sticker?

              1. Bend & Snap*

                I’m correcting you because you are wrong.

                Alison very clearly said–and this is what i meant in the first post–that identity in this context is something you’re born with and can’t change.

                Nobody is born a devout Baptist or whatever. If you are born purple and to Baptist parents, abandoned at birth and raised by wolves, you’ll still be purple but you won’t be Baptist.

                If we’re talking about parts of identity as nature vs. nurture, religion is nurture. And that’s why it’s not okay in the workplace.

                1. Electric Hedgehog*

                  I really get what you’re saying, but what I’m saying is that the law treats religion on par with other identity factors, such as national origin, race, and gender (which, if we really want to get technical, isn’t nearly as fixed as it used to be). And I disagree with the assertion that just because you can technically change a religion or even not have one, it makes it less of an intrinsic part of your life, your experience, your basis for reality, than any of those groups, plus sexual orientation.

                2. Bend & Snap*

                  The reply button is gone so I’m just replying here.

                  If you really got what I am saying you wouldn’t be making this argument. The question is “is this a good idea?” The discussion is “No, here’s why.” This isn’t a discussion about legal protection. It’s about good sense and respect.

                  You want to flaunt your views on traditional marriage and your religion and whatever else is not part of you the minute you’re born, go nuts. Just don’t expect it not to have an impact on you in the workplace. That’s the ENTIRE POINT of this thread.

                  There is a reason there aren’t already stickers/symbols for certain groups of people. It’s because they’re mainstream and already have all the awareness, rights, privileges and support they need.

                3. Electric Hedgehog*

                  To be clear, again, I am a proponent of LGBTQ marriage, so it’s not me flaunting my views.

                  That is the original intent of this post, yes. However, that is not the conversation that I’m having. My response to Alison was to disagree with her assertion that religion is not identity.

                  You appear to be having a different conversation at this point.

                4. Bend & Snap*

                  Technically, if you’re the only one having a conversation, it’s not a conversation.

                  And nobody else is talking to you about religion-based identity or whatever except to try to pull you into the discussion everyone else is having.


                5. Morning Glory*

                  Electric Hedgehog, have you heard the expression “the right to my hand ends where your nose begins”?
                  Having a photo or a sticker that shows you are a Mormon is a statement about you, it’s your hand – that’s your religion and part of your identity*.

                  Making any kind of statement that explicitly or implicitly is hateful toward or tries to limit another person, whether by race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or national origin, is a statement about them. That’s another person’s nose.

                  A sticker promoting “traditional marriage” is 100% different from a sticker saying that you’re a Mormon because the sole purpose of the first statement is to say that you are against gay marriage, and not just gay marriage within your religion, but secular gay marriage. That is someone else’s nose that you are punching.

                  *exceptions are groups that were founded to be hateful and exclusionary, like the KKK.

                6. Electric Hedgehog*

                  Ha, yeah, correct. But since my comment was directed at Alison specifically, about a specific statement, I’m not too worried about that.

                  I’ve been in the rest of the comment thread too – generally agreeing that politics shouldn’t be in the workplace, but that if it must be it should be calmly, reasonably, and respectfully discussed.

                7. Amy the Rev*

                  To your point about religion being solidly nurture, I’d argue that that’s a pretty Christian-centric way of looking at religion. Some religious traditions are inextricable from their related ethnicities, such as Judaism and Yoruba, which are the religions of the Jewish and Yoruba people, respectively. Our definition of religion tends to come from a (Protestant) Christian understanding of how religion is practiced/what religion looks like, which is why many Christians (or Atheists raised in a Christian context) don’t understand how someone could be an Atheist Jew, despite that being a very real thing.

              2. Newby*

                A wedding photo is not a religious statement, even if it is a religious ceremony. Wearing a CTR ring or a cross or other symbol of your religion is also not the same as a political statement and telling people that they can’t wear anything religious would be deeply offensive to many. I think all those would generally be considered acceptable.

                1. Simonthegreywarden*

                  I mean to me, calling those things offensive is like calling a nun’s habit or a hijab offensive, and neither of those are (unless, I guess, it’s one of those Sexy Nun costumes….).

              3. Electric Hedgehog*

                Morning Glory – yes, agreed. That was exactly my point. Some intrinsic portions of a person’s identity – such as their religion, or as another example, sexual orientation – sometimes are perceived as political regardless of intent. And just as a gay person shouldn’t quash that portion of their self identity to fit into a workplace, a religious person shouldn’t feel compelled to hide or lie about their beliefs to fit into a workplace either. Once you start stomping on people, though, you lose that immunity.

                1. Morning Glory*

                  I don’t think we agree at all…

                  “Uh, it’s a legitimate, closely held belief for a huge, huge portion of the country. If a rainbow sticker is ok, I don’t think anyone should give a traditional marriage symbol any grief.” – Electric Hedgehog

                2. Electric Hedgehog*

                  No, we agree. The types of symbols that I was thinking of are the types of symbols you cited, not the nasty bumper sticker slogans someone else clarified with above.

                  I genuinely didn’t remember that those horrible Adam and Eve/Steve stickers are a thing. My apologies.

              4. KellyK*

                A wedding photo is a wedding photo. That’s completely different. People might draw inferences from the type of religious building you got married in or in front of, but the wedding photo is not a statement that the secular government should adhere to your religion’s definition of marriage. I don’t know the specific meaning behind the CTR ring or the “Family: A proclamation to the World” statement. If they specifically say anything about limiting *legal* marriage to one man and one woman, definitely not. If they’re more personal commitments or religious definitions of marriage, then maybe. Possibly too overt for work depending on how specific they are.

              5. aebhel*

                None of those are specifically traditional marriage stickers/decals, though. I mean, yes, I can probably assume that someone wearing a CTR ring has a particular set of views on same-sex marriage, as I can probably assume that someone with a rainbow pin has diametrically opposing views. But neither of those is a statement on specific political or legal policy, and that’s the distinction.

          2. Jessie the First (or second)*

            This is about what you do at work. Have all the beliefs you want, plaster them all over your house and your Facebook page.

            But not at work. At work, stick to messages that are neutral, or that focus on inclusion (because you work with all sorts of people).

            1. Electric Hedgehog*

              I’m not talking about beliefs as I am about identity-shaped politics, and where that line is.

          3. Bend & Snap*

            A rainbow sticker is not about marriage. It’s about identity. Your choice of religion and partner are not inherent to your identity; you could change them if you wanted to. Not so with sexual orientation, skin color, etc.

            Also, nobody said you can’t have or display those beliefs. This whole thread is about politics in the workplace. Although displaying politics that reflect a straight, white, Christian existence is probably a less damaging move than any other kind. Which says a lot about the state of the country right now.

          4. Alton*

            The problem is that religion is inherently somewhat subjective. There are a lot of churches and even some entire faiths that are welcoming toward gay marriage, for example. So being a member of any faith, in itself, does not mean that someone is against gay marriage.

            Also, accommodations have limits. Someone cannot do or say whatever they want just because they’re religious. This is true of anything regarding accommodations. The recent letter about the office that was going overboard trying to accommodate an employee with OCD is a good example. Even disability accommodations have reasonable limits.

            If granting a religious accommodation would create a hostile environment for other protected groups, it’s not a reasonable accommodation.

      6. Amy the Rev*

        What would a ‘traditional marriage’ sticker look like? Would it be referring to a specific ballot measure in a state, or a court case? That would make it partisan, I think. Similar to how in my profession, as a church we can proclaim to be “Open and Affirming” which means we welcome the LGBT community and will hold same-sex weddings in our sanctuary, etc., but I couldn’t advise people to vote against/for a specific ballot measure from the pulpit.

      7. KellyK*

        Of course it’s political. It’s arguing for your religion’s view of marriage to be used as the legal definition. It’s not as partisan as a sticker naming your candidate, but it’s definitely political. For that matter, you may well have colleagues in same-sex marriages. “I don’t think your marriage should be legal,” is a pretty inappropriate message to send to a coworker.

        1. Alice*

          Exaclty – you could believe in and practice traditional marriage within (and because of) your particular religious affiliation and still accept that other people will have gay marriages in the courthouse or their own religious settings. The political part is the advocacy against other people’s right to marry.

      8. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        A “traditional marriage” sticker wouldn’t be equivalent to a rainbow sticker or equals sign. Those symbols are an expression of inclusion and support for the LGBT+ community, not a negation or statement against traditional marriage.

      9. Temperance*

        100% not even comparable. It’s fine for you to have beliefs opposing gay folks, but broadcasting such will just make any LGBT coworkers feel unsafe around you. Which might be your aim by broadcasting these beliefs, but it’s not really the same thing.

      10. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

        Not to be rude (that always starts a rude comment, right?)–what is a traditional marriage sticker? I had to go Google to see some examples because I didn’t know if there was a sticker without words. Couldn’t really find one.

        If it’s like a gay marriage sticker (with two females or two males holding hands) only with a male and female, fine, whatever. If it’s a gay marriage sticker with a big “NO” sign through it, then no, that’s pretty blatantly rude and exclusionary. Kind of like if there was a picture of a man and a woman holding hands with a big “NO” sign.

  13. Mazzy*

    This may not be popular but I think it’s important. So I work in a very liberal city. It is in vogue to make fun of the way trump looks, how Melania is stupid, and all sorts of things that wouldn’t fly with another candidate. I also receive factually wrong information from my coworkers and subordinates that makes it clear that they just read a headline but not the article. They’ve also made false historical equivalence a or misuse political works and bill names or even the names of war and countries which makes me believe they are getting their information from discussion rooms but not actually analyzing the topics or learning the history. Because if you think Stalinism, communism, and naziism are all the same, then your making yourself look uneducated pontificating about politics in the office. To the unpopular part – if you think you’re prepared to lecture others on politics when you don’t know basics of USA and world history or recent policies implemented by bush or Obama – yet you’re going to act like an expert – in going to think twice before I hand you a huge project that requires autonomy and where I won’t have time to check that you did thorough research? Are you just going to google a few things, or read up on it for hours and call around to experts and order data from public offices to analyze?

    1. Argh!*

      Why do your subordinates feel they can share things like that with you? What is the nature of your relationships?

      1. Mazzy*

        I guess so. I think it’s just because I allow a “liberal” discussion policy (not in the political sense) as long as work gets done, and so politics slips in

    2. AMG*

      Maybe a general, ‘I believe in not shaming other women’ or ‘sorry, I am on a moratorium from discussing politics’ or something similar?

      1. blackcat*

        Yeah, I’m as far on the other side as possible, but I facebook-yelled at a fellow liberal who posted something making fun of Melania. I did use the phrase “That’s not how feminism works” with that audience, but in general, I often say, “Leave families out of it.”

    3. Is it Friday Yet?*

      Media illiteracy drives me batty!! I’m not one to ever jump into a political conversation, but I have to speak up when someone is saying something that is just flat out wrong!

    1. KellyK*

      I think wearing religious symbols is more acceptable than wearing partisan political stuff. It’s an expression of your own identity, not a statement that other people should convert. But a “Vote for Wakeen” sticker or a political party button are more about campaigning.

      That said, trying to *convert* your coworkers is unprofessional.

      1. Argh!*

        Wearing a cross or a star of david necklace is fine. Cluttering up your office with religious paraphernalia is annoying and distracting and makes me wonder if you can be trusted to be fair to people of another faith.

        1. Rat in the Sugar*

          I think it follows a similar kind of line as the political stuff, where it should be general symbols and not specific religious things. My coworkers shouldn’t have a problem with the saint medal I wear, but if I post the Nicene Creed on my cubicle wall that would be weird for people.

          1. Emi.*

            What about hanging up a religious picture along with comic clippings, baby pictures, movie posters, etc.?

            1. AKJ*

              I would think a small religious picture mixed in with all of those other things would be OK, but a big huge poster with a big religious symbol as the focal point of your entire office would probably not be.
              I used to have a very small verse of scripture taped to the base of my computer where it would face me but was hard to see unless you were actually sitting in my chair. I don’t think anyone even noticed it, especially since I had a photo of my dog right next to it, and cute puppies usually grab people’s attention first!

          2. AthenaC*

            I’m sorry I just found the idea of posting the Nicene Creed on the wall to be really funny.

            Alternatively, you could wallpaper your office with one of the more obscure, lengthier litanies!

      2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        Can I just say that I’d love a “Wakeen/Fergus 2020” election sticker? Nobody would get it but other AAM readers.

        1. KellyK*

          That would be pretty awesome. The slogans would also all be inside jokes, like “Make Duck Club Great Again” or “Peace, Love, and Chocolate Teapots.”

        2. wannabefreelancer*

          I need this.

          Also need to read the Wakeen story again because I snort at my desk each time. It never gets old.

              1. NotAnotherManager!*

                Thank you so much! I wasn’t a reader then and didn’t know where that came from.

                (And I’m not going to lie — I totally thought that Joaquin Phoenix’s name was pronounced Joe-a-quin for a very, very long time. I had only seen it in print, and didn’t hear it aloud until I was in my 20s.)

                1. Liane*

                  Same here, plus Khan’s son in “Wrath of Khan” had the same name (or a similar one, depending on your sources) that was pronounced more like it is spelled, at least in English.

        3. New Window*

          Can I just say that I’d love a “Wakeen/Fergus 2020” election sticker?

          Alison, if you sold these through your website, I would so. so. so totally buy one.

    2. AndersonDarling*

      Agree 1000+ !!
      I almost think political views have become religions. Let work be a neutral place.

      1. Big10Professor*

        That’s nice in theory, but for historically oppressed groups, every thing they do is political, including work. For example, if you are gay, you have to think about whether to disclose that in the workplace. Not many people would come out and make a big announcement about it, but what if someone asks you what you did over the weekend? Is a gay woman able to say, “my girlfriend and I went to a concert” the same way a straight woman can say, “my boyfriend and I went to a concert”?

        Making work a neutral place is easy for those with (straight, white, Christian) privilege, but not for everyone. I wish that identity was not a political issue, but until we have true equality for everyone, it will be.

        1. ket*

          To some extent I agree with you, and to some extent not, as I was recently shocked to discover a friend’s gay friends are ardent supporters of the new Prez (not so much because they’re gay, but because they dress and cook like liberals from their liberal neighborhood). Yes, in some ways everything they do is political — but that doesn’t mean they voted for who you think they voted for. People often have very complicated political views and it’s dangerous to assume too much based on demographics.

        1. Amber Rose*

          It did already. One of our departments, the guys all chipped in to buy a copy of the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. At which point I revealed I paid the money to become a minister like, 10 years ago. :D

          But I did ask them not to do what they were doing, which was going around and reading bits of the gospel. Even a satirical religion is polarizing (or maybe especially is the word). This isn’t the place for that, even if it’s just a joke.

  14. Amber Rose*

    I have to ask what you’d expect to accomplish by doing this? Because either your coworkers will agree, or they will disagree, but either way you’re taking focus away from what you should be doing, which is the job you were hired for.

    I understand that personal expression isn’t exactly about accomplishing things, and I understand the desire to have something you feel strongly about out in the open. But for the most part, you can’t bring that stuff to work anyway. You can’t usually dress the way you want to, or have the accessories you normally like, or dye your hair rainbow colors* or even talk like you do on your own time (for example, if you’re like me and curse like a trucker normally but work a customer service job). View it like that. It’s not work appropriate. It might make people uncomfortable. Either way, it’s not what you’re there for and it’s counter productive.

    *As a side note, I think people should be allowed to dye their hair rainbow colors. But it’s still not ok in a lot of workplaces.

    1. BPT*

      I agree with this – look at what you want to accomplish. On the one hand, yes, it’s important for a lot of issues to be confronted and not swept under the rug. It’s important to increase awareness of certain issues, and I understand the instinct to want to be an advocate in all areas of your life.

      But there are studies that show that people don’t change their minds when presented with contradictory evidence. In some cases, evidence that does not agree with their preconceived notions makes them even more firm in their original beliefs. So as much as I want to bang my head against the wall and try to forcefully cram actual facts into people’s heads sometimes, that isn’t actually an effective tactic (much to my disappointment). Displaying political paraphernalia will often already put people’s guards up before you even talk about politics, if your goal is to discuss politics. I find it’s actually more effective (especially with people you can’t afford to argue with) to try to be nice, kind, and helpful to everyone, so that when you do make a statement that they might not agree with, they may be more receptive to it.

      For example, my parents are liberal (increasingly so over the years) in an area that is mostly conservative. A lot of their friends and acquaintances are conservative, but my parents don’t talk politics much unless with people they know agree with them. My parents ran into another couple at the store the other night, and the couple started saying how they were so excited the ACA was going to be repealed, assuming my parents agreed with them. My dad then told them that if it wasn’t for the ACA, he nor my younger brothers would have any insurance, so it’s been lifesaving to my family. That stopped the conversation. It may have had no impact on the other couple, but it might have at least made them think about not assuming everyone around them has the same views. Maybe it even impacted them, who knows, but I think it was a better tactic then being more forceful. (Hope that wasn’t too political of an example – it can definitely apply to both sides.)

      All that to say, if people already like you, they’ll be more receptive to your ideas when you do state them. But forcing your ideas on people before they ask doesn’t really help with the “liking you in the first place” part.

      1. turquoisecow*

        I remember seeing a documentary a few years back on 9/11 conspiracy theories. The show presented a number of people with theories about 9/11, just about every theory you’ve ever heard and then some. Then they presented these theories to experts on the topic. Not just military or political talking heads, but actual experts, like scientists who studied the way steel beams perform under pressure, or pilots and airplane designers who know what happens to a plane when it crashes. Each of the experts contributed evidence to prove the conspiracy theorists wrong. Afterwards, the producers went back to the theorists with the evidence.

        None of them changed their minds when presented with this evidence. They all said, “We need to work on our theory to make it stronger.” They didn’t abandon their theory – they just twisted facts to make it fit, and were willing to do more twisting to make it fit better.

        This is how a lot of politics work. When you point out your political belief and how and why you believe it, chances are the other side isn’t going to stop and say “Hey, you’re right. I’ve been going about this all wrong!” They’re instead going to push that aside, either consciously or not, and continue believing what they believe, even if it requires manipulating facts. This is why I refused to watch the presidential debates (once both parties had selected their final nominees) – neither one is going to convince the other, and I was pretty sure the side I was opposed to wasn’t going to convince me.

        Having further conversation with coworkers is only going to end up making things awkward. Neither side is going to convince the other.

    2. Catalin*

      Exactly. Walk the walk, OP, there’s no need to talk the talk. Be inclusive, be tolerant, be protective or supportive and create an environment where the people you pledge to support via politics are ACTUALLY SUPPORTED. As one of the persecuted minorities, I can attest that knowing where my allies are doesn’t come from a WAKEEN 2020 sticker or a bunch of political posts on people’s cube walls.

      1. Venus Supreme*

        Exactly, Catalin. Same here. As someone who’s needed to find allies in her social circles, I looked for who has DONE stuff, rather than shared memes online, wore a slogan-shirt, etc.

    3. Sunflower*

      I totally agree. What exactly are people hoping to accomplish by talking politics? Everyday workings of an office are enough to drive people mad about their coworkers so bringing in something as heated as politics just blows my mind.

    4. JMegan*

      Yes, this. It’s great that you are passionate about your politics, and of course it informs a large part of how you live your life. But why is it so important to you to have it on display at work? Not that we need an answer here, but it might help you to make a list of the “whys,” and check if they’re both work-appropriate and likely to achieve your goals.

      My guess is, you’re probably pretty open about your views, so most people probably know about them anyway. This is not a bad thing, as long as it’s in the realm of the usual demographic/personal stuff that people know about you anyway. For example, my colleagues know my approximate age, my sexuality, and my family status, and can probably make a decent guess as to my political leanings as well. There’s not much more to add to that – even if I put up political posters or whathaveyou, I don’t think it would tell them anything they don’t already know about me.

    5. SarahTheEntwife*

      Just to make it clear, I agree that I shouldn’t — except possibly for one-on-one with coworkers I’m friends with outside of work — but I have been having to keep squashing my urge to talk about stuff at work just because I want to go “the world is falling apart, why are we worrying about barcodes??”. And this is all on me and my difficulty finding the right balance between activism and getting on with my life, but I totally sympathize with the LW for wanting to talk about it.

  15. Oryx*

    On November 8th, several of my co-workers showed up in pantsuits. On November 9th several of us wore all black. Several also wore all black this past Friday while I wore a Nasty Woman shirt and I saw a couple pink hats as well.

    We also know the temperature and climate of our office so I wouldn’t have done any of that at any other job.

    1. SJ*

      Ditto — I started my new job in September, and from the jump, everyone in my office was clear that they were voting for the first female major party nominee and were excited to do so. On election day, my boss ran into the office all excited and told us that someone outside was handing out anti-now-POTUS buttons, and we all went and got one. I’ve had that button displayed on the corkboard wall of my cubicle ever since. I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t clearly know the political views of everyone around me, but since they all schlepped in on Inauguration Day wearing all black, I feel fine with it. But if someone mentioned to me or my boss that he/she was uncomfortable with the button, I’d understand and take it down.

      1. SJ*

        However, based on some of the responses here, I’ve moved the button to a discreet corner of my cubicle where probably only I can see it, just in case.

        1. MommaTRex*

          Good call. Someone might be feeling out of place and trying to hide it. Or they might even feel on your side, but are uncomfortable with politics at work.

      2. Simonthegreywarden*

        I voted like you did, unwillingly (I am a staunch believer that we need a third political party at the very least, perhaps more like five or six, so that compromise would have to become a way of life) but I would feel VERY uncomfortable seeing it because I feel that it continues to foster the kind of divisive and hurtful political morass we have been descending into for a long time. When my husband said he could never “respect the president” I checked him on that and reminded him that personal feelings aside, continuing that kind of speech would make us no better than the people who spent eight years calling Obama racist names. To be fair to him, he took that to heart.

    2. LBK*

      I still have my rainbow H> pin up at my desk but it’s tucked behind a big filing tower so you can pretty much only see it if you’re sitting my chair. Hopefully it’s not too flashy.

  16. Katie*

    I think if you know that you have coworkers who feel the same way, there’s nothing wrong with venting to them or discussing politics. In my office, we all went out for a (boss-sanctioned) drink in the middle of the day on November 9 because we were all so depressed. But I think putting a sign, etc. at your desk crosses a line.

    1. Ive BeenThere*

      I don’t know how big your group is, but I’m going to speculate that there were some who did not feel the same way, but were afraid they would be ostracized if they admitted it.

      1. Anonimouse*

        Yep – happened to me. During a previous election, my boss threw a in-office party to celebrate her candidate’s win. I was “outed” by a coworker as the only one not happy with the results. Cue everyone staring at me in silence, including boss in her bedazzled POTUS hat.

          1. Katie*

            That’s the thing, though- no one was keeping mum. Everyone who went out that day had already been pretty vocally anti-Trump.

            1. Kate*

              With all due respect, are you sure they didn’t just go along to get along? I can pretend to agree/find things to agree with pretty enthusiastically on both sides of the spectrum, and I have had to do so more than once. I am pretty sure I “passed” as an enthusiastic supporter.

              1. Katie*

                I’m positive. Although I hate this phrase, given my location, age, and profession, I really can’t overstate how much of a liberal bubble I live in. I literally can count the number of Trump voters I know on one hand, and none of them are friends or close family. I’m actually an outlier in my office because I didn’t go to the march on Saturday. These are people who bring up political issues on their own, talked about this past weekend’s march, post anti-Trump things on Facebook, etc. If any of them are faking, it’s a very long con.

      2. Purest Green*

        Yep. I’m the solo Democrat in a group of Republican coworkers. I wouldn’t otherwise know this if they didn’t share that about themselves during discussions that I feel far too awkward and ill-positioned to disagree with.

      3. Adam*

        A few days after the election I went to a dinner party with a lot of close friends. I’d bet my next paycheck we all voted for the same person. But I wasn’t TOO honest with my feelings as I personally was in the camp of “I hate all my choices this term” and just did not want to open that box.

    2. Terry*

      I’m sure my boss thinks we all agree with him. Actually, we just don’t want to argue politics with the guy who does our performance appraisals.

      1. Sunflower*

        I’m here too. My team is very ‘what is the world coming to’- and that’s fine if that’s their feelings but please not at working lunches and calls that I can’t just hang up on/walk out of bc I’m at WORK and need to be here if I want to get paid. I’m in the moderate in the ‘ehh I’m not happy about this but I don’t think the world is ending’ so I can see both sides to this result. I just sit there awkwardly and try to talk about facts when I can- like ‘should be interesting to see what happens with X policy now’. I just wish we could talk about something else.

        Also I’m the type to say ‘ok this happened, now what do we do going forward?’ so hearing people just moan and groan about things they can’t change(and this applies outside of politics!!!) is really annoying to me.

  17. Andy*

    Ugh. Just don’t. I don’t even live in America, but I’m a conservative in a rather left-leaning workplace and have to put up with people going on about the results. All. The. Time.
    Allison nailed it though: if you don’t want to see someone with the opposing viewpoint do what you’re suggesting, the don’t do it yourself. I can’t even bring up my views at work without fear of angering, offending, triggering or turning people against me.

    1. the other side*

      LOL – my very Republican ex worked on a very liberal news show and felt intimidated against voicing any opinions while there for fear of reprisals. But even there, they avoided personal statements (i.e. rainbow stickers, “I’m with her”, anti-whomever) items at any desk other than the top network execs.
      Be cautious as to what you put up and where/how visible as you don’t want the company create a “no tchotchkes or personal items in your area” rule.
      And yes, I’ve had to lay down the law on that at work because people put up things they thought were fine but someone else in the office objected to the message.

    2. leslie knope*

      i frankly find the comments from people complaining that their, to put it mildly, non-inclusive views alienate coworkers to be laughable. maybe get different views, then.

      1. Observer*

        Thank you for explaining so precisely why even (so called) liberal political views should be kept out of the office.

        “everyone is entitled to my opinion” is out of place in the workplace, even if your opinions happen to be correct.

  18. Rache*

    “Turn it around and imagine someone doing this who has political views opposite to yours — putting up signs and wearing pins expressing political views that you find offensive.”


    So much vitriol and negativity on both sides of this. Being passionate of your view and wanting to live/breathe/speak it daily is one thing, but insisting that a CAPTIVE audience of coworkers be subjected to it day in/day out is another thing. And I don’t imagine the management would be tolerant of it for very long.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Captive audience. That’s it in a nutshell. Out of baseline respect for the people who must put up with us day after day, we can’t inflict our opinions on them. They cannot leave, they have to stay in our workplace but so do WE. It’s baseline respect. We all need to eat and pay our bills, that is the most important thing to remember. OP if you can’t think of anything else, remember the one thing we all have in common is we need to eat and pay our bills.

      I think most of us would say a cohort threatens my ability to earn a living, I am going to be really PO’ed. It’s baseline stuff.

  19. Barney Barnaby*

    Keep it out of the workplace.

    I hold minority political views in my workplace and am very politically active. It works because I do not mention it or speak in vague terms (“I have a few personal things to attend to during lunch” might be code for “I’m putting together a panel discussion on a hot topic issue”) and try to be as gracious and understanding as possible when my coworkers talk politics. (Alternatively, on days when I know it’s likely to come up – like Friday, with the inauguration – I conveniently take lunch at my desk.)

    Seriously, no one needs you shoving your opinions in their face. They likely know if you agree or disagree with them, and you aren’t going to change their minds by turning your cube into a campaign stop.

  20. Anon for this*

    For context, I work for a sexual and reproductive health organization (not the one you’re likely thinking of) that will be greatly impacted by the president’s policies. Most, if not everyone I work with has similar views and from an organizational perspective we are against the policies as they prevent us from fulfilling our mission and will decrease our funding. Even with all of that I would still prefer my coworkers to keep the politics to an as needed basis. Now do people do this? No. But it’s not a very formal office culture.

    I think what sticks out to me is that it goes from business to personal. And even with people being of the same overall believes, there can be a lot of variance still.

    1. Anon for this*

      Yeah, this comes up in my work, too. We’re federally funded and serve the DC area, and there’s just no way around talking about some aspects of the change in administration (federal hiring freeze affecting many of the people in the region we serve, federal funding for our agency being up in the air, security measures from the inauguration affecting access to our office for a couple of days, etc.). It definitely bleeds over, and the vast majority of my coworkers share the same point of view (4% of DC residents voted for Trump, so that’s true at a lot of places around here). But when people start venting/ranting, it gets old fast, even when I agree with them.

      There’s also a difference between letting it come up organically and purposely posting political signs in the office. Lots of my coworkers went to the women’s march, and we’ve chatted about it the way we chat about weekend activities in general, but no one has anything political hanging in their cube.

    2. k*

      Agreed. I work for an organization that serves a marginalized group in a liberal leaning city, so just by its nature it’s safe to say that a good percentage of employees have similar views. I’m very vocal about my strong political opinions outside of work, but I still wouldn’t feel comfortable putting my political views on display in the office. I can’t imagine anyone would appreciate it, and it risks making someone else feel uncomfortable in their workplace.

  21. Good Afternoon!*

    I’d rethink the need for it to be in every facet of your life. Just in the pure fact living a life completely around politics is so incredibly stressful.

    Are you really ever going to give yourself and those close to a break? That’s close to making it an obsession and one focused around something you dislike. I can’t think of that being healthy in the long term. And incredibly irritating to people around you in the short term.

    Even politicians have hobbies.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yes, this holds true in families and with friends. If a person is locked into one topic and unable to focus on a variety of things that can be very off-putting. And over time it can end up alienating people.
      Sadly, sometimes people take the opposite view just as a way to resist the constant drone from the singular topic person.

      1. Spoonie*

        This. Being around a person who talks politics All. The.Time. gets exhausting and means I will likely start avoiding you.

  22. Clever Name*

    Honestly, wearing a button/pin or posting a sign at your desk is going to change nobody’s opinion. At best, it’s a sign of solidarity for those who feel as you do, but it could make people feel uncomfortable. I like work to be a politics- and religion-free zone, and I think many others do to. Think of other ways to channel your activism. Here are some things I’ve personally done this past week:

    -call your senators and leave a message about specific issues (I called about a cabinet nomination)

    -send postcards to your senators and congresspeople with short and specific messages (respectful ones, obviously!)

    -I called a scientific society of which I’m a member to ask about the society writing a position paper on a topic directly related to our work. I’m prepared to write/spearhead such a paper.

    -I handed out a McDonald’s gift card to a man holding a sign asking for help

    Other things you can do:

    -Write letters to the editor

    -Run for office at the local level. Some local elections have a single person running unopposed.

    -Purchase subscriptions to newspapers to support journalism

    1. Horse Lover*

      I love these suggestions. I wish more people would do things like this. I am so exhausted with extended friends and family who feel that because they “liked” something on Facebook or Twitter or commented that they’re being ‘politically active’ and making changes.

    2. Lemon*

      Yes! I was going to post something about ways to become more politically engaged, but I’ll just tack on to your post.

      If your job is unionized, consider getting involved in the union. If not, do you think you should be unionized? That might be something to think about taking action on.

      Clever Name mentioned running for office, but many towns and cities also have boards, committees, and commissions that you don’t have to run for (members are average citizens who apply and are “appointed”). Check out your city’s webpage and see if you can find information about this type of civic service.

      Try phone banking for local organizations.

      Spend some time learning more about the in and outs of your state’s legislature and legislative process. I’m lucky to live in my state’s capital, so I’m taking opportunities to learn about how to use that as a resource for advocacy.

      At the end of the day, I think it’s far more important to challenge yourself to use your time and resources in ways that will actually help people/organizations.

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I have run unopposed for almost a decade. So have all the other members of my board that I am on. It has been this way for almost 20 years.
      I snorted when you said that about running unopposed, Clever Name, because it is absolutely true. The apathy at the local level is appalling. I can count on one hand the number of residents who have come to a meeting in the past ten years.

      The other thought that strikes me is that we have specific words in the English Language that describe people who talk endlessly and do nothing. Rabble-rousers was the old term.

      1. Emi.*

        I thought you had to inspire others to disruptive, possibly violent action to qualify as a rabble-rouser.

  23. fluxinsight*

    I’m curious to hear Alison’s advice on political advocacy organizations and how one should talk about politics in the office. I’ve worked in these types of offices in the past and people’s political beliefs were very obvious. However, people tended to be professional and focused much of their attention on the organization’s message. But it may help that most people sorted themselves out by political affiliation and worked for places that aligned with their beliefs.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, my experience with political advocacy organizations is that you actually hear less political talk because … well, I don’t know exactly why, but it feels like it’s something about just taking it all for granted / things being fairly obvious. And yes, being focused on some very specific aspect of the political landscape.

      1. J.B.*

        And I also wonder that if you’re involved in the sausage making, the tradeoffs of doing x vs y are clearer and (if you want to get anything done) compromise is often your friend.

    2. anon #20*

      I work for a political (labor) organization and everyone’s spaces are *plastered* with posters and political signs, and new posters are frequently printed and distributed (there was a whole series for Pride in June, including ones featuring Bayard Rustin and Marsha P. Johnson). One of my coworkers has an entire wall of their cubicle covered in hundreds of old campaign buttons. We might be the exception, though….

      I even have an IWW union bug (“ABOLISH THE WAGE SYSTEM/ABOLISH THE STATE/ALL POWER TO THE WORKERS”) hanging up, but in a part of my desk that’s hard to see except from my chair. :)

  24. Loopy*

    I have to sit through political talk and politically minded coworkers day in and day out. And regardless of how I feel or which side I’m on sometimes I’m just overwhelmed period, full stop. I wish I could have a politics free space/hour/ etc.

    And a friend of mine who agrees with me politically is always texting about the latest news she’s read. It doesn’t matter how brief the text or how much in agreement I am- it’s a distraction and just as overwhelming as the in person politics. These are issues that can be very distressing and anxiety inducing and it’s been terrible on my focus, no matter how much I agree with her opinions.

    She might be much like you- she feels she needs to be involved and active. And I want to support that but I had to lay it down with her- not while I’m at work.

    I’ve realized politics from any angle is a distraction. And I’d urge you to keep that perspective in mind for your coworkers.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’ve actually banned my mother from talking politics with me, and we agree on everything; it’s just exhausting and stressful. (And she STILL brings it up, no matter how many times I ask her to stop.)

      1. Loopy*

        I’m so glad others understand this. I’m always afraid I come off as wanting to stick my head in the sand or say la la la with my fingers in my ears when I tell people to not speak to me about politics.

        I care. I just need boundaries!

      2. Liz in a Library*

        My husband has had to resort to saying, “I’ve asked you not to bring this up with me, so I am leaving now” with his dad. And then he does. They do disagree, but I think a moratorium on any upsetting topic of conversation that isn’t inherently about the relationship between the two people is talking is fair to call for.

        1. Temperance*

          We decided to opt out of holiday dinners with my family and in-laws because this election season has empowered them to say whatever mean, bigoted thought crosses their mind. Not that it was hard for them to do so in the first place, but now they think that they are “right”, and that the government is coming for godless liberal Muslim-lovers like us.

      3. Prismatic Professional*

        Yeah, I’m super lucky that I’ve got a partner who loves politics and keeping track of _everything_ and asks, “Do you want to hear the political highlights from today?” Then doesn’t say anything if I say no. It’s just so stressful. I barely have spoons to make it through work and home safely some days.

      4. Mookie*

        Curious, when you say politics, do you mean all politics, like everything in the news barring weather, arts & entertainment, gossip, sport, et al, or just election-related matters?

    2. Not So NewReader*

      I am not sure if you think it is fun to talk about this stuff, OP, but for some people it is exhausting. I mean exhausting to the point of wanting to take a sick day from work in order to rest. There is a physical impact to have elongated discussions over something that cannot be fixed by any single individual.

  25. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

    Yes, please don’t. Your coworkers are already kind of a captive audience, in that they don’t associate with you or your workplace as a matter of pure personal choice. I know there are several of my clients and coworkers whose convictions are opposite mine, and I’m glad that my workplace is basically apolitical because it lets us judiciously ignore the tension that would otherwise be cropping up.

    Honestly, I am finding work and its bland pleasantries a respite from….well, literally every other venue of my life, which is filled with the firmest expressions of sociopolitical convictions imaginable. I would find it distressing if it intruded.

    1. Clever Name*

      This. I talk about politics with my family, I talk about politics with my friends, I read the NYT and WaPo daily. When I’m at work, I don’t want to do any of that. I just want to do my dang job.

  26. Geneticist*

    What if your workplace and work are directly impacted by politics?

    example: you work as a climate scientist, epidemiologist, in vaccine development, at a Planned Parenthood clinic, etc.

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Speaking as a climate scientist/ecologist and consultant on environmental compliance and policy, it’s been….really hard. I still keep it pretty straightforward, focused on individual work tasks. A couple of my coworkers (there’s 5 of us onsite at a client office) went out for drinks last Friday and were a lot more open about it, but we don’t really bring it up in client-facing situations.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        That said, I feel like I’m grieving a death. An agency I used to work for got gutted yesterday, absolutely stopped in its tracks.

        1. Kate*

          YES, this. I know that more women and children are going to be dying because of some of the new global health policies (this isn’t political ranting – there is ample evidence to back it up), and it just kills me.

        2. Case of the Mondays*

          I just heard about it today and I am in total disbelief. I feel so awful for everyone that works there.

        3. Federal Procurement Analyst*

          I work for the EPA. Headquarters issued an order for all contracting offices to immediately stop awarding contracts and grants.

          I came into federal service in 1987. This administration’s actions are unprecedented. I am so glad to be retiring at the end of July, with my retirement and other benefits intact. I feel for newer employees.

          There was a person in my department that turned her cubicle into a shrine to Barack and Michelle Obama. Many of us had his presidential portrait up in our cubes, but she had every piece of available paraphanalia. She even brought in food for his birthday. This was all OK except during the actual election season when she had to take it all down. Afterwards, she put it all back up.

      2. hermit crab*

        Our CLIENTS bring it up in client-facing interactions. It’s hard not to when their offices/programs are getting gutted and our contracts with them are getting frozen and nobody knows any actual information and on and on, but I’d still prefer that our meetings not devolve into vent sessions. Our collective freaking out in the conference room isn’t really going to help anyone.

    2. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      Or a lawyer! Anyone who does any legal aid, immigration, or pro bono side work with LGBT people is running around like a chicken with their head cut off due to current instability with rights and social assistance, and so talking about it can spill over to the main job.

    3. Justme*

      Education. At my workplace we have talked about it some since education policy will impact us directly.

    4. Kai*

      Yeah, my workplace (philanthropy) is actually quite vocal about all this because so much of our work is directly affected. We pretty much have to be, if we’re going to plan for the future effectively at all. But we are an exception.

    5. KellyK*

      If your work is directly affected, there’s a certain amount of “talking politics” or at least “politics-adjacent” discussion that you have to have in the course of getting your work done. For example, I’m sure people at Planned Parenthood are talking about how to deal with the huge increase in demand for birth control, and climate change scientists are discussing where to publish and back up data. I don’t think discussing how current politics directly affects your job is out of place.

      But even if you’re directly affected, too much politics at work is going to be distracting even for people who agree with you. If you need to vent, maybe find a couple like-minded people to go out for lunch or happy hour with, to keep the discussion from bleeding over more than it has to.

    6. Kate*

      Yeah, I work in global health research. Although (thankfully) we receive no funding from the US government, we have to talk about the new policies as they affect overall funding levels for reproductive health (and likely other areas), services provided, and the populations we care about. We also have staff who are here on employment visas, some under NAFTA, so we are talking about how they might be affected by a renegotiation of the treaty. There is some general political discussion that bleeds in, especially because we are pretty liberal (hard to work in this field and not be), but usually it stays focused on the impact on our field. (when we get together out of the office, though, it’s a different story)

      1. noncitizen scientist*

        Yeah, I’m in a climate-science-adjacent field and working in the US under that same NAFTA status. To some extent, talking about politics with my supervisor is a necessity for me, since my actual work status depends on how these changes unfold.

    7. Emi.*

      I’m at that kind of workplace, and we still don’t really talk about politics. It’s tiring, and, frankly, boring.

    8. Lora*

      Vaccine development here. We are pretty much all politically on the same page in my office, but we don’t very often talk politics at work because it’s too depressing and we are busy people – we mostly discuss science and work stuff. But, for the record, it’s BEEN depressing to discuss vaccines with anyone not in infectious disease/immunology for a long long time regardless of who was in office – the easiest to talk to are the WWII “greatest” generation, because they remember what it was like before vaccines were invented, regardless of their political leanings.

      Most common question I get, in accusatory tones, is, “and do you take your own vaccines?!?” / “you don’t take those vaccines yourself though, do you?!?” Yes, actually, yes I do. I have the scars on my arm (smallpox vax) to prove it. And I get a flu shot every year, and one of my pediatricians lost my records when he retired, so I had to get re-vaccinated with everything AGAIN in college. All at once. And I get the DTaP every five years because I always have some sort of stupid injury that needs it. Plus, I travel, so I’ve had all those shots, and the yellow fever one really stings. I haven’t had rabies vax yet, although my vet says that given the number of coyotes in my area I should probably get the series – but it’s expensive.

      In terms of FDA, nearly all those decisions are made by committees full of MDs and scientists anyway. Local auditors/reviewers applied for their jobs like anyone else – they have relevant education and experience to do their jobs. It doesn’t impact us as much as you might think, the FDA head is mostly a figurehead rather than someone who makes actual policy.

      Count me as another burned out on news, though. My mother sends me texts with the latest whatever dust-up she had on Facebook with some relative of the opposite political persuasion. I figure if there is a civil war, someone will let me know.

      1. Emi.*

        Thanks for developing vaccines! :) I’m currently trying to get into a vaccine trial, but the NIH and I keep missing each other’s calls D:

        1. Lora*

          You are more than welcome! It’s right at the intersection of several fields I find fascinating, and it gives me warm fuzzies to make a medication that is incredibly effective and incredibly cheap.

          Fingers crossed that the last one I worked on has a good clinical response…safety profile looks good but I’m waiting on efficacy results.

      2. Lissa*

        It makes me very sad that the work you do is considered controversial or political, and that enough people feel that way that you don’t like to talk about what you do. (interestingly I think those might be one of those issues that doesn’t break down traditionally left/right lines, as I’ve heard both far-left and far-right people be anti-vaccine)

    9. Temperance*

      I had to put together some pretty last-minute, urgent events relating to the election’s results, and was very pleasantly surprised to see how many of my coworkers channeled their upset, stress, and need to do something in to very wonderful results for people in need.

      I’m a lawyer, working in pro bono … and obviously the transition of power means that different groups of people are going to have their rights impacted in various, not-great ways.

    10. Not So NewReader*

      There is a difference between endlessly lecturing people and conducting business.

      If a workplace is impacted by TPTB, then the convo goes differently:
      “Heads up. It looks like A or B could happen. Most likely it will be A. Here is what we expect to do if that happens [fill in with explanation here]. If B happens then we will [alternate here].”

      Where as a person who is expressing a political view point is saying different things.
      “I believe X and you should, too.”
      Sorry, I have work to do. Catch you later.

      It’s two hugely different conversations.

    11. CasperLives*

      Small immigration firm here. We did discuss politics in relation to what could happen in our field. That was useful because CLIENTS want to know what’s going to happen to their case, etc. Everyone is generally on the same political side, but not 100%. I’ll say the discussion of what could happen, how to communicate that to clients, and changes on how we handle some cases was necessary.

      The company is small and dysfunctional. Even though we generally agree, I’m glad the bosses have rolled back their political talk. I and other coworkers have asked each other to stop spending lunch on politics, which has been respected. The one time it wasn’t, I gently scolded the 20-year-old. He has the excuse of not knowing office norms!

    12. NicoleK*

      I work in the health insurance industry so we are directly affected. The talk mainly circles around “well he just can’t take away health insurance for x million people”.

  27. Machiamellie*

    We unfortunately lost two employees shortly after the election; they weren’t able to compartmentalize. One went around the office ranting and the other sank into anxiety/depression and stopped coming to work. It didn’t help that people at work who were happy about the results went around smirking and crowing about it. The whole office was just a miserable place for a couple of weeks.

    1. KellyK*

      Wow, that sounds miserable. I feel like the people smirking and crowing should’ve been spoken to as much as the person ranting.

      1. MT*

        Why? If they were smirking and not openly gloating, there is no issue with that. That is like saying, everyone that was sad should have been talked to as well.

        1. Amber Rose*

          Yes. They should have. You are expected to behave professionally at work. Down thread, there is someone who mentioned just wanting to work but their coworkers keep crying and carrying on. A professional has a professional face. That means no smirking, sneering, rolling eyes, sticking out tongues, raising eyebrows, constant weeping, etc. You can and should control these things at work. Your facial expression is a huge part of communication. This is normal and not anything new.

        2. KellyK*

          You seem to be ignoring the “crowing” part, which means openly gloating. Smirking is pretty context dependent, but if someone says they’re having a rough day and you smirk, you’re not being a good coworker. There’s a difference between having an emotional reaction to events—happy, sad, angry, etc.—and taking visible glee in your coworkers’ negative reactions.

    1. Claudia M.*

      I was just excited for rainbows (LOVE rainbows) and was super confused Allison recommended them in association with this thread, before the comments helped reminded me they also had socio-political sub-context.

  28. Squirrel*

    Slightly off-topic but, I would like to applaud Alison for suggesting that a person *do* something to support their beliefs, as opposed to just expecting others to do something for one’s favorite cause(s). As someone who has volunteered for non-profit organizations, it is much more useful to have someone help (whether with time, effort, or money) than it is to just have them like a status or share a post. If you have strong feelings, please use them to help!

  29. Justme*

    I agree 100%. Although I do have some politically motivated pins on my bag, they’re not on full display most of the time.

  30. Alienor*

    I wouldn’t do it. I feel the same about the election results, but I only discuss them behind closed doors with two or three colleagues whom I trust. I’ve had the experience of finding out that someone I thought was OK actually holds views that are anathema to me (not “we don’t agree on how the economy should be managed,” but “they actively hate groups of people to which members of my family belong”) and on balance I would really rather not know.

  31. Karyn*

    Yeah, I do have coworkers who I do know share my beliefs on this particular President, and we will occasionally quietly discuss him at my cubicle or in their offices, but I really try to keep my voice low and not bother anyone else with it.

    I just listen to MSNBC on my radio app on my headphones and silently nod.

    1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

      Me too! I heard the saddest thing the day after the election; my friend is doing an ER residency in Miami, in a poor area.

      That day, all ERs and waiting rooms were PACKED. Historically so. With South American and Cuban immigrants.

      People thought Trump took office immediately, and could right away unilaterally deport or take away insurance. Because that’s how it works in some countries.

      She spent the whole shift reassuring terrified immigrants.

      1. Temperance*

        We provide immigration legal services as part of our pro bono work, and it was stressful, sad, and exhausting to have to tell all of the clients as they called that no, we couldn’t expedite their applications to be seen before Obama leaves office. They all called us the day after the election, and we couldn’t give them any answers or reassurance. These are women who have been severely and savagely abused by romantic partners and husbands, and they regularly tell us that they find the process to be as stressful as the abuse.

  32. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I was wondering about this too. As a young lawyer in an office full of young lawyers, I know we are mostly liberal.

    On Friday a coworker said, just out of surprise, fairly loudly, “Trump deleted the climate change and LGBT White House pages and hadn’t replaced them at all!” She was just finding that out.

    I said “no” pretty forcefully, and went over to her to see if it was true. Then made some bad crack about “well, that is awful but I still exist!” Some people also have buttons on their personal bags for a candidate- but it isn’t as visible as on cubes, and bags go under desks all day. And people with the same views, myself included, have talked quietly about “are you going to X?” “Do you know about Y?” But we don’t bang on to opposed people.

    I guess I am having a hard time striking a balance between not being really political, while in a politically-aware and affected profession, and existing openly.

    I once had a right wing coworker complain that I was being political by mentioning my wife!

    I’m just me, though.

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Sometimes you can’t avoid it if your profession or identity interacts with politics – or has been politicized.

  33. Temperance*

    There is someone in my office today wearing a “Make America Great” again hat. He’s getting the attention that he asked for, and it’s not pleasant for him. He’s in the vast minority, though, and he looks really stupid (not least of all because we’re all lawyers, and wearing a baseball cap is just a weird thing to do at a law firm). Don’t be like him.

    Some of the women in my office wore pantsuits after the election. That was a classy and subversive way to show solidarity and opposition.

    1. So anon for this*

      I wear pantsuits to work every day. I voted, but not for either of the main candidates. I understand why some people wore them after the election, but to me they are just the clothes I have worn to work for the last 17 years, there is no political statement behind them. I also keep my politics separate from work and it was exhausting to hear it being talked about all the time by people who assumed I was wearing what I was in solidarity with them OR against them. My work has nothing to do with politics and after the election a no politics policy was instituted and it is being enforced. Things are so much better here because everyone has calmed down and it’s actually nice to have a break where I don’t have to hear or think about it, since it seems to be everywhere else at them moment.

      1. paul*

        I can get that. My wife wears pantsuits 9/10ths of the time….she’s not exactly happy with the election but I wouldn’t read politics in that clothing choice

        1. Temperance*

          I know these women well, and we talked about why they were doing it. So I wasn’t just imputing that they were Clinton fans. We are all attorneys, FWIW, and pantsuits aren’t really the norm in my office, so it was noticeable.

          1. So anon for this*

            Apologies if I implied that you did :)

            The issue for me is assuming that everyone who wears a pantsuit is doing it to make a political statement. You didn’t cry solidarity to strangers or random colleagues. There is no problem as long as it is only done with people you know.

    2. Emi.*

      Are pantsuits different from, say, the pants option of suiting separates? I always picture something like Clinton or Scully wears, which is boxier and has a longer jacket than most women’s trousers-jacket combos I see for sale.

      1. Kelly L.*

        Yes. The jacket and pants are made of the exact same fabric in a pantsuit. Once upon a time, a lot of workplaces did a sort of grudging “OK, women, you can wear pants, but only if they’re a pantsuit.” And I think for a lot of women who came up during those years, they became a uniform of sorts.

        1. Emi.*

          So if they’re the same fabric, like in a men’s suit, then it’s a pantsuit? I always picture a certain kind of cut.

      2. Temperance*

        That’s exactly it. Although none of them wore Clinton-style suits, just things they already owned.

      3. sam*

        I wore white and purple on election day, which are symbolic of women’s suffrage. It’s something you could theoretically wear because you support women’s right to vote, regardless of who you’re voting for, but, you know…

        I also wore my giant “you have the right to vote” pin, because I woke up at 4 am to volunteer at an Election Protection hotline center. I will protect your right to vote with every ounce of my being, even if I personally think you’re voting for an [insert your favorite insult here].

    3. Purest Green*

      It’s convenient that Hillary-supporters were able to openly and tastefully show support like that, but it’s unfortunate people who supported other candidates did not have that option. (It would have taken great restraint for me not to wear “feel the Bern” paraphernalia if that had been the outcome, but there’s no way that wouldn’t have been ridiculous looking, so I somewhat sympathize with your hat-wearing colleague.)

      1. Temperance*

        I voted for your candidate of choice in the primary, so I get it. We put pins on our bags. ;)

        Honestly, the hat seems super aggressive and out of place to me, but I think it’s because of what it represents as well as the amazing impropriety of feeling the need to wear such a thing at a law firm on a random Tuesday.

      2. BPT*

        I mean I’m sure you could have had your hair crazy/messy or worn glasses after the election to show solidarity. Or just emulated one of his outfits. It’s supposed to be subtle.

  34. Lovemyjob...Truly!!!*

    LW – I’m with you! I don’t agree with the results and would like to “express it firmly in all facets of my life”. I agree with Allison though, it’s not a good idea. Frankly after the last election I am exhausted enough that I don’t want to give any of my co-workers (most polar opposite view points from mine) any reason to start up the loud talking again. How do I share my views without signs and slogans? A safety pin. I wear a safety pin over my heart on all of my outfits. It’s a signal to those who know the symbol that I am a safe person in this increasingly angry world. It shows that I support women, men, the LGBQT community, all religions, all races. It’s quiet. A few co-workers noticed the pin when I began wearing it and the few who knew what it meant scoffed at it. I’ve had strangers on the street point their own pin out and smile at me in solidarity. When I hear negative talk out in the world, I casually make my pin more visible to the quiet people in the world. It’s not going to change the world, but it made me feel a bit better about my place in it and with what I am able to do. Try it!

  35. Chickaletta*

    I too feel strongly about the results, on the side of OP. But I’m also so tired of facing the news everyday: on the tv, on facebook, on bumper stickers… it’s constant and exhausting. Also, just because I agree with someone doesn’t mean that listening to them isn’t as tiring: indeed, some of my liberal friends have been just as obnoxious as my republican ones. I work from home these days, but I imagine that an office would be a nice respite from politics where one could focus on work instead. I would definitely not want it added to the facets of my life which are already inundated with American politics.

  36. E.R*

    I’m lucky enough to work in a culture that is political, so I can talk about politics for good chunks of the day. It makes me happy, though many people would find it hellish. Presumably they wouldn’t be interested in the work we do so much anyways. My co-workers and I dont all agree, which makes it even more fun (for me)

  37. rubyrose*

    Please don’t.

    I was not happy about the election outcome, but decided to keep an open mind. As a part of this I’m actually paying close attention to what is being done and said and trying to put it all in context. Having to deal with people on both sides who are having knee jerk reactions is extremely wearing. And yes, it does effect my opinion of them. Not because of their views, but because many of them can’t be bothered to fact check what is coming out of their mouths.

  38. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    My governor just fainted during a speech, and very possibly has cancer. I assume worrying about him and if the successor can do a good job, though, is allowed?

    1. KellyK*

      Totally! “I hope our governor is okay,” and “I hope our state isn’t adversely affected by his illness and a possible transition,” are extremely reasonable things to think and say. No decent person is going to disagree with that.

    2. AKJ*

      I would say that’s allowed. But maybe that’s because I’m also worried about our governor, so I’m probably biased. As long as you leave out policy discussions, it would be ok, I would think?

      1. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

        And you’re an Esq. too! If you work in the metro it’s decent odds we’ve already met IRL and don’t know it. Weird.

        But yeah. The media is saying maybe prostate cancer. And I was hoping to see him with a congressional delegation at an interfaith progressive event this weekend!

        1. MegaMoose, Esq*

          It’s possible! Small world, etc, etc… And it looks like it’s official now, so I’ll add my good wishes to the pile.

    3. Lemon Zinger*

      It’s inappropriate to jump to conclusions like that unless it’s been confirmed that he’s literally on his deathbed.

  39. Juli G.*

    If you want to embrace activism in your work life, can you look at your policies? In my state, it’s legal to fire someone for being LGBT but my company has a very inclusive policy. If you’re field isn’t very diverse, could you work on some initiatives to bring more diverse candidates to your company?

  40. Cranky Pants*

    I’m a very left leaning independent who formerly worked in a very conservative company. I was comfortable talking about politics with a few select people out side of the office but these people are still in my life today, many years after we stopped working together. Everyone else assumed I was liberal, and I am, but I just did not want to talk about it at work. Most people respected that but there was this one senior sales guy that could just not let it go. He constantly gave me crap and when the DNC was in Denver, things came to a head. He just would not stop pestering me about whether I was going to any events, if I gave “those idiots” money, etc. I eventually told him I wasn’t D or R because neither party represented my views (truth) and I was a gun-toting liberal. He and another one of the senior sales reps then treated me with absolute fascination because they didn’t think people like me existed. That was only marginally better than all of the assumptions he made but it didn’t make me want to talk about it any more than before.

    1. mcr-red*

      As someone else who is neither D or R because neither party represents my views, I have found that most people (conservative and liberal) just automatically assume I feel the same way they do and will go on rants AT me. I don’t ever like to talk politics/social issues/religion, so I don’t engage in these conversations, yet they will go on and on, even when I make the attempt to change the subject. “…So you’ve said. Did you see the latest episode of TV Show?”

      It has been within the last year or two that friends have said some incredibly insulting things to my face and don’t realize it because they just assumed I feel the same way.

    2. Anonimouse*

      I’m a conservative vegan. The fascination from both sides is real and never ending. I feel your pain. :)

      1. Helen*

        I am too! I’m also bisexual and currently partnered with a woman. I find that one side thinks I am with them and the other side thinks I am against them, even though the opposite is true and I’m neither. I feel your pain also.

        1. Anonimouse*

          My best friend and roommate is a gay man, who also falls to the right of the political spectrum, and we are both gun owning, animal rescuing, practicing Catholics. Its funny how many things only one side or the other “claims” – yet here we all are.

    3. Recruit-o-Rama*

      Actually, I think most people are like you and what I mean by that is that most people cannot be defined by the platforms of either party but we are “forced” to pick a side because of the two party system. If you (collective) try to argue for common ground, you are told “the stakes are too high for a third party vote this year!” The problem is, the stakes are ALWAYS “too high” for a protest vote and both parties are guilty of this. I’m an extremely socially liberal fiscal conservative so on the political circle, we probably meet somewhere near the top of the circle, where no candidates live. Hi neighbor!

      1. Observer*

        I would say that it is generally true that the stakes are too high for a protest vote.

        Nevertheless, it is also true that the fact that someone voted for this one vs that one does NOT define them.

        I’ve been finding myself very annoyed with the “If you voted for x, it can only mean that you are ok with Y.” No, no and NO again. For a lot of people, they held their noses and chose whoever because they believed that that choice was less bad for a whole host of reasons.

  41. Whoopsy*

    I wear a hat to work every day that says “America Was Never Great” with a safety pin in it. This is mostly to serve as easy quick identification that I will stand up for somebody on the commute if needed, but I usually don’t take it off until I get to my desk. I’ve received…largely no reaction, or a very mild positive one. But I work at a social services nonprofit in NYC, so YMMV.

      1. esra (also a Canadian)*

        What an odd thing to say.

        @Whoopsy, I tend to take my buttons off before I hit the office, but keep them on for the commute, too.

          1. whack*

            nope, not a troll at all. I’m a highly educated arts & sciences person with friends & family in the military, teaching, public services (fire, police, EMT), and many associates who are LEGAL immigrants into the USA and just frustrated that you feel the need to wear a hat that says “America Was Never Great”.
            I don’t feel the need to wear political buttons/clothes or safety pins, I let my actions at work & in the community show my affiliations and support (meals for families affected by AIDS/HIV, food banks, scouting, service, teaching, etc).

            No, I’m not a Trump supporter (why do we feel the need to always point that out??) but I do truly feel that we have been & STILL ARE a great country; if we weren’t, why would so many people be working so hard to come into the country & become citizens? Why stay if you think we aren’t a great country?

            I’m not being sarcastic or mean-spirited, I really do want to understand why you feel “America Was Never Great”.

  42. Tinker*

    IIRC, the strongest correlating factor with people’s willingness to support LGBT rights is being aware that they know a LGBT person. Thusly the rainbow necklace that I put on the day after the event, and have worn every day since then. (Mostly the rainbow because I think it’s more recognizable to the general population and more appealing to my personal aesthetic than most of the more specific alternatives. Particularly, I loathe pastels.)

    I think statements of general inclusion or personal identity (in matters where you’re willing to accept the likely fallout) are pretty good bets — since people are generally pretty guarded about things that touch on political identity, I kind of wonder if such statements are likely to be effective at all.

  43. Adlib*

    Just today had to ask our branch manager to take down a handmade poster/picture that was political in nature and definitely did not belong on the break room board! Nobody needs that nonsense at work.

  44. Jaguar*

    So, I would like to offer competing advice, but I’ll preface this by saying that if you find yourself aggrivated or pushed towards strong emotions when discussing politics, it’s better that you keep that out of the workplace.

    This kinda turned into a novel, but the gist of it is that I think it’s possible to have discussions with people you vehemently disagree with civilly and I think it’s dangerous for people to hide their politics.

    However, if that’s not a problem for you and you’re okay with the ideas that you might not be able to change someone’s mind, they might be unwilling to change their mind, or your idea might be wrong (whatever your politics and ideology might be – I’m pretty radically left myself), I don’t think you should shy away from political talk with people you know, including coworkers. It takes two people for a situation to escalate and if you’re confident in your ability to not let that happen (a virtue!), then you can have a political discussion with someone you disagree with and who is completely irrational and emotional in their manner of discussing politics without issue. As I’m sure is the case for many other commentators, my 20s were spent in the post-9/11, Iraq War era and I was very emotionally invested in my ideas and thoughts during that period (and still am), so I understand being unable to have a reasonable discussion with people whose ideas I disagree with. I’ve had to end conversations (and still do, from time to time) before they got out of hand. So I don’t mean to suggest this is an easy task. But I think it’s an important one for people to develop.

    So that’s why I think it’s possible to have those discussions with coworkers. Why I think it’s important is because I don’t think the partisan climate gets solved by people avoiding engagement with people who they disagree with. That’s really Balkanizing and tribalist and has a problem that really concerns me where people continue to hold their ideas without discussing them or having them challenged. It’s how things like racism or sexism can often be worse where there’s a more progressive culture because instead of stamping out the issue by making those things so shameful (as opposed to a healthier environment where people acknowledge that they are all prone to racist/sexist/bigoted tendencies), racists and bigots instead hold their views in private for fear of that shame and those “shameful” ideas tend to become uglier and more negatively charged in people. To use a less charged example, there’s a thing called “rubber duck debugging” in programming where programmers will talk through a problem (as in, out loud) with someon else or even a prop like a rubber duck and, often, by talking things through, the programmer will often come to more sensible and clear-headed ideas and solutions than they normally would. The point being that once the programmer is saying things out loud, all kinds of corrective forces like wanting to present themselves as intelligent, respectible people come into play embarassing them out of not-fully-thought-through ideas. You try the pants on and see how they look on you before you buy them (but also maybe try the pants on you think you’d never wear, too).

    I don’t mean to suggest that people should enter discussions they don’t want to or enter discussions because they feel it’s important to do so. I’m just not convinced avoiding discussions because reasons is a good idea if you think you can have that conversation civilly (including situations where you stay civil when the person(s) you’re talking to doesn’t). I think that’s the wrong perscription to a difficult conversation.

    1. So anon for this*

      But when you are at work you (generally) have no choice but to be around your colleagues. Even if you are comfortable having a political conversation and may keep it civil, other people may not be. It’s not right to do that to someone who has to be around you if they want to work and get paid. If you are in a space where no one is forced to stay, or where their political opinion could have repercussions on their career or livelihood than having a discussion and not agreeing is fine. Work is different though. People with all political views risk this happening depending on the majority/other people feel at their workplace.

      1. So anon for this*

        That should read: where their political opinion could *not* have repercussions on their career or livelihood

      2. Jaguar*

        I don’t think people have a right to not hear things. If two other people are having a contentious discussion or discussing something a third person disagrees with or whatever, be it at work or school or Church or wherever, I don’t think they have any obligation or even require any consideration that engaging in conversation among themselves may be uncomfortable for another person. The idea that they should is an idea that drives discussion underground and, for the reasons I discussed above, I think is far more dangerous and cancerous to civil society than offending or triggering or upsetting a third party.

        My opinion changes in the case of intentional bullying, but otherwise, I think that if someone doesn’t want to hear things or be exposed to ideas they don’t like, the responsibility is on them to make safeguards, not the responsibility of everyone else to enforce their bubble. Likewise, if a person gets angry or upset or anxious by hearing certain things, regardless of how traumatic those feelings definitely are, it’s that person’s problem to sort through and I really disagree society has an obligation to self-censor across the board because of that. At the very least, the person in question should have the low-bar to cross of just asking, “Guys, can you discuss that somewhere else?”

        1. So anon for this*

          Depending on the dynamics and hierarchy in the workplace, people may not have the option to leave or ask others to take it somewhere else or stop talking to them about a particular subject. I agree with you in regards to it happening and self-censoring in other places, but most of the time at work you have to be there and you have to deal with your colleagues. Work is supposed to be a professional place. I can’t just walk out of a meeting because I don’t like or agree with the politics that are being discussed. My work has nothing to do with anything political so there is no reason for it to be talked about in my office.

          1. Jaguar*

            I still don’t think a desire to not hear things outweighs a freedom to discuss things among one another in that situation. Certainly it’s polite not to do it in that situation, but being inpolite isn’t really something worthy of blanket rules of conduct, in my opinion.

            1. BPT*

              I agree with your overall sentiment, that we need to take on the hard issues and not shy away from them, but at work you’re supposed to work. If you find yourself getting sidetracked because of political discussions, or if talking politics makes people less likely to want to work with you, then that is a problem. Talking politics should in no way affect your work, and you don’t always know if it will and how people will react. Work isn’t the time to have a roundtable discussion unless specifically done by the workplace (i.e. diversity training types of things).

              If someone is talking about politics near you and says something offensive, then you can of course speak up and say “that’s actually not true” or “I’m X, so when you say Y you’re talking about me. Please stop” or something to that nature. You can even talk about politics with people you know enjoy it. But don’t go around confronting people just because you want to feel like you’re doing something. And I say this as someone who works in politics – sometimes people just need a break.

              1. Jaguar*

                I’m not talking about confronting people. I’m talking about deliberately avoiding topics in a conversationation.

            2. KellyK*

              Etiquette has rules, though. No one’s saying that those kinds of political discussions should be illegal, or that anyone who has them should be summarily fired. But expecting people to be polite at work is not too much to ask.

            3. Federal Procurement Analyst*

              I totally disagree. The fear for some of us is real and visceral. And rudeness has no place at work. Take that shyte elsewhere.

        2. KellyK*

          It’s not about a “right” not to hear certain things. People deserve to be able to concentrate on their work, at work. For that matter, people generally do have a right to a workplace that’s free of sexism, racism, religious intolerance, and in some states homophobia. Also, there are actually common standards for polite conversation at work. It’s not considered appropriate to discuss surgical procedures or violent situations in graphic detail, for example.

          If you want to discuss politics within those constraints, with people who also want to discuss politics and who aren’t your subordinates, that’s fine, but discussing whether or not people like Jane should be allowed to get married, 2 feet from Jane’s cube while she’s trying to copyedit a highly technical teapot production report is not appropriate workplace behavior, no matter how much you feel it contributes to a free marketplace of ideas.

          1. Jaguar*

            So, the question the OP asked was:

            To what extent is expressing one’s political beliefs appropriate / allowed in the workplace? I don’t mean proselytizing to coworkers (obviously annoying and inappropriate) so much as having a political sign in one’s cubicle or as one’s computer wallpaper, or wearing pins, etc. to work?

            To which Alison urged not to do that and which I’m offering my argument against. I’m not talking about discussing the most hateful or bigoted things you can imagine. I’m responding to advice that political talk should be taboo among colleagues. I don’t think it should be. I think it should only be cautioned against if people aren’t up to the task of staying civil.

            That said, while I am in full support of equal rights regardless of sexual orientation, I think it’s important to realize that if the standard for whether something should or should not be talked about is whether it potentially affects other people is a bad standard and is often defined by the individual and then used as a way of shaming others. How dare you talk about gay marraige in front of Jane! As if Jane is incapable of hearing ideas contrary to ideas important to her without bad things happening. It’s also important to recognize that this is a sliding scale and what constitutes the bag of sensitive topics to you is different than the bag of sensitive topics to others. How do you feel about discrimination against convicted felons? Sexual predator laws? Affirmative action? Social security for disabled dependants? Regardless of where you fall on these issues, I can illustrate examples of where talking about your feelings will be triggering to others. I don’t think that’s a reason to make these discussions taboo – making it harder to talk about things often calcifies people’s thinking. If you don’t want to have a discussion, by all means, don’t. But trying to enforce a culture of nobody being able to discuss something is really awful, in my opinion. It treats people with issues important to them as if they’re emotionally fragile, treats society at large as incapable of acting civil with one another, and makes it harder to untangle the polemic political climate the western world is now in.

            1. Federal Procurement Analyst*

              I still disagree. If you are not a member of a marginalized group who had overheard negative commentary relating to said group, perhaps you are not qualified to speak. Work at work. Is that so difficult?

              1. KellyK*

                This is also true. If you haven’t experienced the visceral gut punch of “Wow, Coworker doesn’t think people like me should exist,” you’re probably overestimating how much others should be able to just shrug it off.

            2. KellyK*

              I think you’re creating a false equivalency between “Never have this conversation” and “Avoid having it at work, around people who may not be free to walk away or to request that you stop.”

              It’s not so much that I want you to assume Jane is emotionally fragile or incapable of hearing people discuss whether she should have the same rights they do. It’s that listening to you and Wakeen discuss whether she should be allowed to get married is a distraction from the work that she’s there to do. Particularly if it’s upsetting, but even if it’s only annoying.

              In theory, she should be able to politely ask you to take the conversation somewhere else, but that’s not the case if one of you is her boss, or if doing so would out her (especially in a state where orientation isn’t a protected class). For that matter, if you’ve already expressed the opinion that anyone who’s upset by these topics is an emotionally fragile snowflake, then she can’t ask without hurting her working relationship with you or potentially setting herself up for harassment. (You’re presumably not a bully, but plenty of people who want to discuss politics at work without caring who’s bothered or distracted are. And someone who’s already in a minority isn’t going to want to make themselves a target.)

              If you and a coworker really enjoy discussing politics, and you can do it in a low-key way that isn’t distracting or offensive to other coworkers, I’m not saying you should be fired or written up for that. But the coworkers who aren’t interested, or who are actively opposed to hearing that particular discussion should not be your captive audience.

              Basically, I’m getting the impression that you feel that all controversial or charged discussion should be opt-out, while I think that a lot of it should be opt-in, particularly at work.

              1. Jaguar*

                I’ve been pretty clear about framing this in the context of whether its possible to have these discussions with coworkers in a civil manner and whether political discussion should be taboo in the workplace. I can see where it might seem like I’m making false equivalencies, but I don’t think I am.

                Perhaps emotionally fragile is the wrong way of phrasing it, but when discussions about hypothetical or abstract groups of people or individuals used in discussions about what we have to do to protect them or keep them safe from things that they might not want or might find unpleasant or whatever, that sounds almost identical to the paternalistic arguments used to deny women the right to vote, deny black people entry into college, and so forth. It strikes me as distinctly anti-progressive to be talking about protecting other people from hearing things they might not want to hear. If I don’t want to hear people talk tediously about Pokemon Go for half an hour, my choices are to ask them to take it somewhere else, go somewhere else myself, or put up with it, and many things enter the decision making process there, including, importantly, whether I want to be responsible for the way things I hear affect me. Politics, obviously, is signifanctly more polemic a topic, but otherwise the same, and as a society, we need to ask where the point at which a topic is so odious it can’t be discussed openly is. I don’t think politics rises to that level (or even close). I was actively opposed to listening to coworkers go on about Pokemon Go every day during the summer and, although I would never describe myself as such as I think it reframes participating in society in terms of victimhood, was a “captive audience” to it. I’m not accusing real people of being snowflakes – quite the opposite, in fact. I think my position comes from a place of assuming they aren’t and we shouldn’t treat them like they potentially are.

                Opt-in/out is a clumsy way of describing this, as there is no “opt-in” in your scenario (assuming I understand it) – there’s a straight-up moratorium on the discussion at all. I see my position as being much more a matter of whether consenting adults need to give undo consideration towards how their conversation affects those around them. I think things are certainly crude or garish and should probably be avoided by polite people – and politics has massive overlaps here – but I don’t think it should be considered taboo.

                1. KellyK*

                  “Opt-in/out is a clumsy way of describing this, as there is no “opt-in” in your scenario (assuming I understand it) – there’s a straight-up moratorium on the discussion at all.”

                  I think you’re misunderstanding. I specifically said that it was fine for you and a coworker to discuss politics in a low-key way, but that you need to be mindful of your other coworkers. There’s a big difference between a quiet conversation at the water cooler and a loud conversation in the hallway right by my office, that I can’t drown out with headphones. There’s also a difference between a boring discussion of policies and a heated discussion of controversial issues. If you’re talking about whether property taxes are an appropriate way to fund public schools, have at it. If you’re talking about abortion or laws promoting religious discrimination, then you should be more mindful of your audience.

                  ” I’m not accusing real people of being snowflakes – quite the opposite, in fact. I think my position comes from a place of assuming they aren’t and we shouldn’t treat them like they potentially are.”

                  See, the problem with that framing is that you say other people aren’t a captive audience, and that asking you to stop discussing an unpleasant subject is a low bar, but you make it really clear that you’ll think less of them if they object. So, they can’t win. Not having controversial and intensely personal discussions around people who are directly impacted is not treating them as emotionally fragile. It’s extending them basic courtesy.

                  This is why I grit my teeth and turn up my music when my coworkers say horribly offensive things about people like me or people I care about. Because I know full well that they aren’t going to respect a request to knock it off, and that any request, no matter how out of bounds their conversation was, will get me labeled as the PC police.

                  I also think that you’re viewing politics as impersonal because it’s impersonal to you. But it is perfectly normal and reasonable to have an emotional reaction to coworkers proposing things that will concretely harm you, especially if they’re casually talking negatively about groups of people that you’re part of.

                  If Jane asks Wakeen and Fergus to stop talking loudly about how traditional marriage needs to be protected and the gay agenda is ruining America right outside her cube, that doesn’t make her emotionally fragile. It makes her a normal person who would rather finish her spreadsheets than listen to people politicizing her very existence. And if she doesn’t ask, because it’s more trouble than it’s worth, that doesn’t mean that they’re being perfectly polite and professional and doing nothing wrong.

            3. JM60*

              The primary criteria by which to determine if some political opinion should be permitted to be expressed at work should be whether or not it’s offensive. Saying that you’re against same-sex marriage is intrinsically offensive, and greatly so, to gay people. If I were in charge, and an employee voiced their opinion that I shouldn’t be allowed to marry by boyfriend, whether they know that they’re talking about me or not, I’d probably fire them off I don’t absolutely need to keep them. By expressing that opinion, they’ve demonstrated that they have an abject lack of respect for me and the many other people who are affected, directly or indirectly, by same-sex relationships.

    2. Jillociraptor*

      I really appreciate this comment, Jaguar.

      Political talk can often morph into a kind of theater, or virtue signaling. I don’t think this is necessarily something to disparage, but it’s also not always particularly productive. And furthermore, it’s certainly not the only kind of political discourse that’s available to us, just perhaps the most pervasive kind. I disagree with the conception of politics as a walled-off domain of discourse that’s somehow different from sharing other aspects of my life. Politics is ultimately how we articulate our visions of the good life for ourselves and our visions of our collective hopes as a nation. It just sometimes looks like that scene from Fiddler on the Roof where the horse/mule debate comes to a head.

      What I think we need to reflect on (and not just when it comes to politics) is: what do we want to accomplish, and what are the tactics that are likely to lead to that outcome. That means naming when what we’re trying to accomplish ultimately is just identity signaling (“I want you to know I don’t like this!”). The long-term impact of that kind of goal is pretty limited when it isn’t combined with relationship building and organizing, even if it does feel great in the moment to know you’re not alone. It can also be counter-productive because others can see that what you’re about is identity signaling–you’re drafting them in your own efforts to articulate who you are and have that be recognized by others. Of course, we’re all doing that all the time, but it puts people off when it’s blatant. That’s true whether you’re just the person who insists on covering every surface that belongs to you with stickers, all the way up to being the person who screams her opinions at others at will.

      Discussions about issues, though–and especially how those issues affect *us* and our communities–are so vital to a healthy democracy, and, in my opinion, so vital to creating communities of people who care about each other and have a stake in one another’s success–for exactly the reasons Jaguar articulates.

      1. Jaguar*

        Yeah, virtue signaling is something I find just outright gross, and twice as much so when it comes from the political and moral spheres I support. I can’t see it as anything other than a way of making a hostile environment for people that disagree, and worse is that it’s usually done that way by intention.

        1. Federal Procurement Analyst*

          2016 was a year of no civility in politics, and was largely one sided. I don’t quite know what virtue signaling is supposed to mean, but hateful messages delivered in hateful ways could never be it. UGH.

          1. Observer*

            I hate to tell you that it was not one sided at ALL. Of course, it’s easy to filter out the rudeness on one side etc. if you carefully filter the sources you listen to, but it’s a real issue.

            I don’t care who you voted for. It’s not decent to make fun of the President’s kid(s). It happened to Obama and it happened to Trump and it’s disgusting. (I’m not talking about the adults involved in the politics – I’m talking about the *kids*.)

    3. Not So NewReader*

      I agree that people need to talk and they need to find commonalities and compromises. They need to share experiences and share perspectives. I think that is super, super important.

      I don’t think that the workplace should be the place to do this:

      We are at work to work for our employer. While we can use our jobs to make the world a better place, I would argue that we should have been doing that right along, regardless of what is going on out there. We can seek other venues to have proactive discussions with people who offer a variety of opinions.

      Between the media, our families and our friends many of us are at saturation level. Sometimes when difficult problems come up people need incubation time. Incubation time is time away from the problem and concentrating on other things. Subconsciously the concern is running in the background. Once a person does return to the problem the person can find that they have developed their thoughts better and can articulate their ideas in a more approachable manner. Succinctly put: Beating a dead horse seldom works into anything proactive. People need down time from a topic/situation/problem.

      Coworkers are captive in the workplace. They are not listening to others’ ideas because they WANT to. They are listening because they have to have food on their table. Missionaries have commented on this, people are listening to the sermon because they know there is food and water afterwards. If you want to deliver a message it is not the best idea to leverage basic human needs in order to get your message across.

      Honestly, my job involves all available brain space. If I am not carefully thinking through what I am working on right now then I am not giving my job my best. And judging from what I have seen as a supervisor, many people feel similarly. While there is a potential for some great discussions at work is it worth possibly damaging the company’s bottom line to get those discussions?

      Again, I do agree that we need to be able to talk with each other and we need to exchange information with each other. Verrry Important. I just don’t think the work place is the venue to do it. It’s workplace not a think tank for our nation’s problems.

      1. Jaguar*

        But those reasons largely work for not discussing your kids’ sports team or a new recipe you tried out last night or whatever, and the reasons that don’t apply to that are, I would argue, bad reasons to avoid talking about politics if you were going to otherwise.

        I’m not talking about pushing your ideas on people when they’re busy. I’m talking about when you’re already going to have non-work talk with people you work with, should you avoid political talk? I think the answer should be no, and furthermore, I think the idea that talking about your idea of how you think the world should be is in some way taboo is actually a really scary idea and a wild overcorrection.

        1. So anon for this*

          Under most circumstances a child’s sporting event or a recipe are neutral topics and not likely to upset anyone or make them feel different or excluded.

          1. Jaguar*

            Right. The reasons you gave, to sum up, were “here to work,” “oversaturation,” “captive coworkers,” and “brain space.” The first and fourth definitely apply to kids sports or any other non-work topic (and I could make a case for captive coworkers, but I don’t want to make my argument rest on that), so I don’t think they apply to political speech in particular being taboo. As it relates to oversaturation, I agree it’s tiresome to hear the same stuff you hear elsewhere at work as well, but I don’t think that’s enough of a reason to make things taboo at work. As it relates to captive coworkers, that’s what I sought to address in my reply to you.

            You’re bringing up “upset anyone” and “make them feel different or excluded,” so to those I would say that not upsetting anyone is a bad reason to not talk about things, for the reasons I outlined above. Not wanting to make people feel excluded is important, and I think people should be aware of that when they get into potentially sensitive topics, but again, I don’t think that warrents blanket bans on topics of discussion and, furthermore, those sort of blanket bans also have a profound effect of making people feel different or excluded, be it the conservative in a very liberal environment, a liberal in a very conservative environment, a woman in a male environment, a foreigner in a different culture, and so forth. Being free to talk about things openly with the people around you is one of the primary tools in combatting exlusion.

            1. KellyK*

              Even if we’re just talking about distraction and brain space, controversial conversations are *more* distracting than polite chit-chat about kids’ school projects and what you made for dinner. Things that have emotional resonance attract more attention, while things that are boring are easy to ignore.

              Previously, I worked in a semi-open office, kind of cube farm. (Our cubes only had 2 sides, and mine faced the wall, so my back was to two other people with no divider.) I was frequently really distracted by conversations between the two coworkers right behind me, or people swinging by to chit chat. The times when I had the most trouble focusing were definitely the ones where people were going on about political stuff.

          2. Federal Procurement Analyst*

            Yep. Why is thay so difficult to understand? That’s innocent office small talk, nothing more and nothing less. Political talk, particularly in a fractured and polarized environment like there is now, has no place at work.

            1. Federal Procurement Analyst*

              Oh, I am a black woman and in no way would feel badly about people not discussing racist or misogynistic topics around me. Jaguar, what you are posting seems reasonable to you, but it’s all theory. It doesn’t go over so well in real life. Work is hard enough without interjecting unneeded BS into it.

        2. BPT*

          But people feel this way about a lot of things. Religion is a touchy subject for a lot of people, but many who are religious truly believe that it is their moral and ethical duty to proselytize to as many people as possible. If that happened at work, I would not be happy. If I knew I was the same religion as someone else, it would probably be ok to say, “hey, did you hear about the new rule from Presbytery?” But to talk in order to start a debate or a back and forth would be inappropriate.

          There could be times when you could talk to coworkers about politics, but it shouldn’t be the rule that coworkers are expected to sit there and listen to political talk. I certainly don’t want to hear someone ramble on about political views I find offensive.

          1. Jaguar*

            I’m not advocating being a hostage of conversation. Freedom of discussion includes the freedom to excuse yourself from conversation, be it a debate about a xenophobic foreign policy or a tedious repitition of something funny Ted from accounting just said.

            1. MJMJMJ*

              But in many workplaces it is not realistic for someone to leave or excuse themselves from a conversations. I couldn’t get up and leave my desk because my work would not get done. I couldn’t walk away from my manager. I would face reprisals for doing so. In a perfect world I could but the world does not work this way.

              1. Jaguar*

                Sure. Does this really rise to the level of “no politics at work” mandates, though? This seems much more like a “sometimes participating in a society is difficult” level of problem to me. Which is to say, something people should suck up and deal with instead of asking everyone to accomodate their issue.

                1. Federal Procurement Analyst*

                  Insensitive much? I felt this way about fragrance bans, but then I realized I was being a bit of an ass.

                  Look, I would have a real problem working with someone who I know believes and supports viewpoints that are harmful to me and my family. A don’t ask don’t tell policy is appropriate in most workplaces. Jaguar, I just don’t get your insistence that there is some kind of right to talk politics at work with no repurcussions. Is it personal for you, seriously.

            2. PepperVL*

              Today the woman who sits behind me, the people on either side of me, and the person at the end of the cube row had a political discussion. Prior to the election, my boss and the woman who sits behind me had political arguments on a daily basis. Headphones did not block out anything they said, so if I was going to be at my desk and do my job, I was held hostage to these conversations. I could listen and try to work or I could walk away and not try to work.

              If they want to have those discussions, they need to go outside to the smoking area or into the break room or a conference room or someplace else only consenting participants can hear them, otherwise they ARE holding people hostage to the conversation.

    4. Alice*

      This is very thoughtful.
      I’m surprised at how many people think that “politics” is separate from “real life.” The kids who got health insurance through CHIP? Real life effects of (bipartisan) politics. It’s a crying shame that we don’t have more thoughtful discussions about politics.
      That said, I still don’t bring up politics at work. All the benefits of a better informed and more thoughtful public aside, the minefields are too risky and the upside is important but diffuse.

  45. Jake*

    Alison hit the nail on the head. If you find a policy offensive and wrong, I guarantee that there are people that find your preferred alternative policy to be just as offensive and wrong. How would you react to a supporter of the President hanging signs and wearing pins? There are plenty of folks that would react the exact same way to you wearing your pins and hanging your signs.

  46. Helen*

    Unless your workplace is somewhere like Planned Parenthood, or an environmental science center, or another place that may faces changes because of the current administration, please do not do this. As others have pointed out it is exhausting to keep hearing about it even if you agree. You may also think that everyone is in agreement with you but someone people may not speak up about disagreeing out of fear of facing reprisals. Even if you work somewhere like I mentioned above you shouldn’t mention politics beyond discussing how it will affect your work. For the record I am in agree with the position of the letter writer regarding the current administration but I am so tired of hearing about it everywhere I go.

  47. TotesMaGoats*

    While I agree with Alison, I’ve worked places where I could and did have engaging political debates with colleagues. Everyone felt comfortable sharing their views. It’s actually surprising when I look back on how often we talked about the things you aren’t supposed to talk about at work. And did so in a way where no one felt alienated. It really was how discourse between professional adults is supposed to happen.

    Not so at CurrentJob. (Oh, I can’t help myself. As of next Thursday it’s OldJob as I got my offer letter today.) While it proclaims itself to be a bastion of freedom of expression and thought, only one kind is really allowed. And that’s a sad statement for higher education.

    1. Observer*

      There is also a big difference between having discussions with people, which I think is very much a “know your environment” thing, and hanging up a sign.

  48. a fsdfa dad fs*

    Would this be too much?

    I participated in the march last weekend, and I haven’t mentioned it at work because its a mixed group. “What did you do on the weekend?” “Uh nothing much”.

    However, I am friends with a few of my coworkers (huge company) and they have seen pictures, and honestly anyone who knows me outside of work knows of my political interests. If someone at work who disagrees with me “finds out” I went to the parade is it a big deal? I don’t want to get into a political debate at work but I’m also not curtailing anything I do outside of work when I don’t need to.

    My team also sometimes talks politics – they listened to the inauguration, a certain political figure inconveniently lives near our office, so it could also easily come up. If we are talking about I would feel pretty stupid talking about it hypothetically and not as something I had experienced first hand.

    1. Alton*

      I think it’s usually okay to briefly mention stuff like that as long as you feel comfortable doing so. Don’t go out of your way to talk about it, but I don’t think you have to actively hide it unless that actually is a rule at your workplace.

    2. Andy*

      When it comes up in conversation I don’t think people are going to care. I’ve made no secret to the fact that I’m a Christian in my (rather liberal) workplace and I’m definitely not preaching at people. It tends to come up when someone asks what I did on the weekend (went to church), if they ask about my annual leave when I used it to attend a conference, etc. Or if we’re friends on Facebook, I tend to get into it more there because it’s not the workplace, and I have more Christian friends than non-Christian.

      The way I see it, at work they’re the one that started the conversation, so if it doesn’t go the direction they wanted it to, that’s their problem.

    3. Lady Julian*

      I just want to say that I’ve done pretty much the same thing. I’m progressive, work with conservatives, and while I haven’t exactly hid that I marched (it’s on my Facebook account, and I’m friends with a number of people I work with), I haven’t talked it up at all, and I only tell people I went if they directly ask me. Trying to balance standing up for my beliefs and not finding myself in a tight spot at work. I think you’re striking a wise course.

  49. Bow Ties Are Cool*

    I have a mild political pin (“Dissent Is Patriotic”) on my bag and I’m still wearing my *ahem* “kitty” hat, it being winter and that hat keeping my ears as warm as any other, but they both go into a drawer in my cubicle as soon as I get there…after I’ve crossed the lobby, gone up in the elevator, and walked across half the floor. And then reverse that route at the end of the day. That’s as much display of my political leanings as I feel is appropriate in the office. Your feels may vary.

  50. Ive BeenThere*

    My wife has been having a tough time at work. Her coworkers all came in crying (literally) in November and some are still vigorously and relentlessly demonstrating their unhappiness. She wants to say, “OK, can we get back to work, now?”, but she’s afraid of the consequences if she did so. So she’s been suffering in silence waiting for them to snap out of it. Someday…

    1. Anon today*

      My daughter feels the same way. It’s a small office and the providers apparently assume everybody has the same politics and talk of nothing else, even in front of clients. She just wants them all to shut up about it and not assume that they are the only people in the universe with an opinion that matters.

    2. Momonga*

      Difficult to “snap out” of a situation where democracy is literally at risk.

      I wish I could snap out of it. :(

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I don’t read the comment you’re responding to as saying that, but rather saying that at some point you need to return to the work at hand and that nothing is being achieved by subjecting coworkers to endless discussions of the situation. (And surely people in other countries living under terrible regimes have still figured out a way to focus at work.)

  51. UX Designer*

    Genuinely curious: how do people feel about coworkers wearing “Nasty Woman” and “The Future is Female” shirts in the office? I’ve had coworkers wear both and because I side with them, it doesn’t phase me. I just ordered one of my own and am curious what others think. To me, it’s about something much bigger than any one party or candidate but obviously leans heavily in one direction.

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      I agree with the interpretation, but I would not wear either of those to work.

    2. AMG*

      I think they are different. ‘Nasty Woman’ is more current politics and ‘The Future is Female’ is more in support of women’s rights. I wouldn’t wear either personally but the Future one is less political than Nasty Woman.

    3. Katie the Fed*

      I would worry about Equal Employment issues with that.

      If you have someone wearing a “future is female” shirt at work, it might give the appearance of gender bias.

    4. voluptuousfire*

      Where I work it would be fine. We had a contingent of employees caravan (male and female) down to the Women’s March this past weekend, so it would be fine. We also celebrate Gay Pride as well, but we tend to skew liberal.

    5. Mazzy*

      I’m going to have to dissent with the others, but I would find these obnoxious. When others say they understand the connotation, I’m not sure many people actually will. Nasty woman to me just means that you consider yourself very tough and maybe confrontational or something so it would just make you unapproachable. If there is a specific political meaning behind it I missed that, it just seems so provocative that I wouldn’t think it’s worth the effort.

      The “future is female” thing I’ve probably seen, but again there are connotations to it. You can’t mean that there are more females than men, because nature balances that out. Do you mean typically female traits? Because I thought the whole point of feminism is to even out imbalances in what is considered male or female. Do you mean more women in certain positions? Honestly, that’s been increasing for years. But if you mean that, do you mean that the genders will become equal, or that females will surpass males at some point? Because “the future is female” would suggest the latter, which is just pushing things in the other direction.

      1. The Strand*

        Nasty woman has a very specific political meaning from the previous election.

        Since UX designer is a UX designer I have a certain image in my mind of what the workplace is like. First off – T-shirts. And are other kinds of t-shirts are common, for TV shows, bands, etc? It sounds very casual, very young and that a lot of lines are blurred – people socialize a lot outside of work, maybe people are more likely to break out into song …

        Most workplaces, there’s much more formality and it would be inappropriate to do more than wear a pin on your outside jacket. I know that the majority of my colleagues lean in one direction. There have been pointed jokes, and my grandboss wept the day after Election Day. But none of us wear political clothing, and even though individually several of us have conversations about politics, I have seen so many people work overtime to be respectful of one another.

        This wouldn’t be viewed as necessary, perhaps, in a smaller workplace where everyone appears to be roughly the same age, liberal (or conservative), and sharing similar values and interests. But in a far more diverse workplace, being more cautious and respectful yields great results. I strongly suggest considering a more “agnostic” environment where a larger variety of people would feel comfortable, because having that variety in potential colleagues really makes a difference, it’s harder to dehumanize someone who disagrees with you if you work with someone and really like them, and discover they share different views and ideas about life.

    6. Observer*

      In other words, it’s ok to wear stuff all day that agrees with your viewpoint, but not with the other side?

      As Allison said, think about how you would feel is someone wore a shirt on the other side. It’s common decency.

  52. Canadian reader*

    I’m not American, but I was in the minority after our current election (in Canada). I cannot tell you how draining it was to have to listen to political talk at work and to have everyone assume that I voted for and support our current leader when the opposite is true. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want my job to be affected. Imagine how exhausted and annoyed you would be if someone from your work was bringing views that were opposite to yours into the workplace and you were forced to be around them all day long. There is nothing wrong with being politically active in your personal life but it needs to stay out of your work life.

        1. Temperance*

          I honestly would assume that people in my age group and profession would largely support him. To my American eyes, he is a dream of a politician and the kind of person I wish would represent my country. So I would honestly be shocked if someone my age, my profession, my education level didn’t agree.

          1. Canadian reader*

            I would never presume to know someone’s political affiliations and I am miffed when someone assumes mine based on things like my age (gender, sexual orientation etc.) Alison asked that we refrain from political discussion so I won’t say anything besides that he has his own set of problems that make him far from perfect.

            1. Temperance*

              Totally understood. I know there is a HUGE difference between the climate in the US and in Canada as well.

          2. Nope*

            My mom is of Cuban descent and my dad is Cree. Despite all his promises, he is no friend to the communities my parents are from.

          3. Chinook*

            “To my American eyes, he is a dream of a politician and the kind of person I wish would represent my country.”

            Luckily, we Canadians don’t always vote for our leaders based on how they look to our eyes or ears. Case in point: Jean Chretien.

            1. Temperance*

              I definitely wasn’t speaking to his attractiveness, although I will admit that he is a very good-looking man. He just seems so kind, intelligent, and well-spoken. I have friends who live in Canada and they all have very nice things to say.

              I admittedly only became knowledgeable about Canadian politics post-2008, when I made some friends in World of Warcraft who live in Canada, so I am unfamiliar with Chretien.

              1. Lissa*

                It really depends on your region. I come from a place that finds our current PM too conservative, very much so, whereas I actually like him overall and tend to keep that opinion to myself because I don’t want to get yelled at by extreme lefties. :D And other regions in Canada find him way too liberal! It’s weird. I don’t know. Even I’m confused.

        2. Chinook*

          Considering I was an Albertan in Ottawa under a previous Prime Minister, I feel your pain. I openly had people telling me that they knew I voted for him and upheld all his beliefs. Ummm….no? Sure, I agreed with some of his ideas but not all of them, just like I agree with some, but not all, of our current PM and our current Premier. But why would I want to discuss my political beliefs, and the facts/science/history that go with them with a complete stranger who judges me based on where I was born?

          1. The Strand*

            Does it help if I say that a lot of Texans really, really feel the Albertan pain? I.e. presumed to be conservative, exaggerating, maybe a little dim?

    1. PK*

      I have this exact same issue. Very different views than everyone I work around. It’s most definitely demoralizing every time the topic comes up. It’s mentally draining.

  53. Jennifer*

    I think my company has done a great job of this over the years. Our mojo has always been that political talk is generally verboten but for how policy debates could impact our business – and we are a business that is directly impacted by public policy. Perhaps it’s our “Yankee” point of view but in the past 15 years, among a group of 10-15 I have never felt like I need to preach, nor have I been preached to, about any of my personal political views. Our team has an average length of service of over 8 years, we’ve seen 2 through becoming citizens, several through buying homes, even more through becoming parents. These are the personal things our team focuses on, not each others’ political views. And I’ve learned IT’S EASY to keep it that simple.

  54. Jesmlet*

    Rainbow stickers and safety pins would be fine for me but anything more that invites conversation is just too much. There are few places we can go to escape the political talk nowadays and it really shouldn’t be brought into work. It’s just exhausting regardless of whether you agree or not with their views.

  55. Archie Goodwin*

    I realize it’s becoming a bit of a pile-on, but I’m going to be another voice in the chorus of “don’t put anything overtly political in your cube, please”.

    What may be black-and-white to you may not always be black-and-white to other people, often enough for reasons that may surprise you. I’m someone who has often been in the minority, opinion-wise, in both my workplace and my social life…but my reasons for thinking the way I do are frequently NOT the reasons people expect to hear.

    Put it this way: if you express your support of a particular issue or two? We’re likely to agree. A candidate? Less so.

    1. Alton*

      This is a good point. Sometimes even people who are in the same party or have similar views don’t agree on everything. And it can be awkward to worry about saying the “wrong” thing.

    2. Drago Cucina*

      Yes. And just because I support cause A doesn’t automatically mean I support cause B. My reasons are layered.

  56. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    I have a small button that says, “the first pride was a riot.” For me, it shows identity and support and a knowledge of my community’s history, but I don’t know if it’s inflammatory.

  57. Katie the Fed*

    I’m glad for the Hatch Act for this very reason. For those of you who don’t know – it prohibits certain partisan political activity at work for federal employees. There are varying degrees of restrictions based on the type of work you do.

    It’s quite nice. The federal government should not be a politicized institution. That would be very, very bad.

    1. Katie the Fed*

      BTW, this doesn’t mean people don’t have conversations. They do. And things are very tense right now. But you don’t see signs or t-shirts.

    2. Federal Procurement Analyst*

      I am a 30 year fed. Everything is politicized in the federal service, it is naive to believe otherwise in my opinion. I should wrote a book.

      1. The Strand*

        If you write the book, I’d love to read it. I’ve only ever gone to a conference talk about procurement, and it still blew my mind.

        You and Katie the Fed go write that book now…!?

  58. PK*

    Don’t do it! I’m actually on the receiving end of this since I work in an environment that has vastly different political viewpoints than I do. I am surrounded by folks who spout their political viewpoints constantly (and they are almost always in opposition to mine). It’s demoralizing and exhausting to hear over and over and I’ve considered looking at other positions for that reason alone.

    Just keep it out of work for everyone’s sanity.

  59. mskyle*

    Something I wonder about: where does “current events” talk end and “political talk” begin? It seems like everything is politicized right now. It’s hard to have a conversation about A Thing Happening In The World without it having the potential to be turned into a political discussion. Even sports and weather talk have the potential to skew political.

    I also do feel like sometimes you have to have political discussions, even at work, if you’re really living your beliefs.

    1. MegaMoose, Esq*

      This is a slippery slope argument, though – I suspect most people can find a middle ground and if discussions of the weather occasionally become irreversibly political, hopefully they can follow the advice here and change the subject.

      Anyone else seen the season finale of The Good Place? ;)

  60. Jane*

    I agree with those who say keep politics out of work but I’m just posting to say I totally understand the sentiment behind the letter. I’m a relatively quiet person at work and the election shook something in me and made politics much more personal for me. It’s definitely made me more aware of my personality and given me a more no-nonsense attitude towards work. I discuss politics with coworkers if it comes up in conversation (and it came up a lot in the days after the election) but it’s nice to have a mental break where I am not freaking out and feeling like something terrible is happening. Sometimes its nice to just do mundane work tasks and not think about the bigger issues in the world around me. There is more than enough time for that during non-working hours (even though I work a lot of hours!).

  61. Anonoyay*

    Fun happy tangential fact: I have a photo of my transgender wife on my desk (replacing a pre-transition photo) and the response has been great, even from the office weirdos. :D

  62. anonyqueer*

    i’m a queer black woman. everything is political for me. the ability to compartmentalize into “political” and “not political” is somewhere between adorably naïve and utterly enraging, but either way it’s a luxury that many of us don’t have access to. sorry if it’s stressful for you to think about when someone mentions it at work; how do you think it feels to live it?

    1. Helen*

      I’m a bisexual, non-white woman and I get it because I have many of the same struggles you do. But if you work in a place that has nothing to do with politics (places like Planned Parenthood or an environmental science center are different) there is no reason for everyone to praise, badmouth or talk about the election or what the President is doing. And if there is no reason for it to be brought up there is no reason to talk about all day. There is enough politics everywhere else. People come to work to do work and make a living.

    2. ZVA*

      I’m glad you brought this up, I was thinking the same thing… I’m a queer white woman who’s not out to anyone I work with so obviously my situation isn’t the same as yours, but I saw someone commenting “give yourself a break from politics” and I couldn’t help but think of all the people whose very existence is politicized, whether they want it to be or not. Hard to take a break from that.

      1. Josie Prescott*

        Yeah. The day after the election folks kept saying, oh it will be OK. And all I wanted to say was, oh really? And when was the last time you turned on the news to get the results of a congressional vote or supreme court case that decided whether you were still married?

        There’s so much more than that, but I’ve found the personal impact of voting on marriage seems to resonate with the CIS folks I work with in a way other issues don’t.

    3. Jesmlet*

      Don’t assume that everyone who doesn’t want politics at work is somehow automatically in a privileged group. There are plenty of people (myself included) who belong to multiple minority groups and still would rather the politics be left at home. Unless you work in an environment that is hostile to your identity, it is perfectly possible to leave that stuff at the door.

    4. a potato*

      I am a queer, non white woman myself and I really have to disagree. I am exhausted of politics because I live it. To the best extent that I can, I want to be able to make my living, put food on my table, and pay for my rent without the reminders of my marginalization shoved right under my nose when they don’t have to be. I want the power that has stripped from me, the privilege that other people enjoy, to be able to pick and choose on my own terms when I want to engage in the often exhausting, contentious, and stressful topic of politics.

    5. Critter*

      This is absolutely what I thought. But I do find it true that even agreeing with others becomes emotionally exhausting. I’m finding it difficult enough to focus on work at all. I’m usually grateful for an opportunity to put it aside and stare at a spreadsheet, however difficult I’m finding it :(

      But yeah. Me too.

    6. Mazzy*

      I totally hear you, but then there are things that shouldn’t be political but have become politicized. I now know left leaning friends who are voting for items that 20 years ago would have been right, simply because the issue has become politicized, if that makes, sense, because I don’t want to give specifics and start a political debate. But health insurance is one of the topics. I feel like some people I know just vote for whatever issue simply because it aligns with their party even though their behavior and thoughts in every other aspect of their lives would suggest a different opinion.

      1. Recruit-o-Rama*

        This is exactly the problem with our two party system. There is no room for complexity. Everything is black and white, no room for rational discourse.

    7. The Penguin*

      I think part of this is separating politics from what I see more as morals. Something like a rainbow sticker just isn’t political. It’s not comparable to having a sign of Hilary’s face.

      I don’t disagree or think you’re wrong. I think things like race and sexuality have been incorrectly labeled as politics or going with one candidate. I think something like the signs meant to denote a safe place for queer people is apolitical. Same should go for a similar sign for Muslims or non-Christians, which I feel like someone should make (a safe space sign in case someone feels threatened).

  63. Enginerd*

    I was always told that religion and politics were two subjects you didn’t bring up at work. The exception being if you work in that field or it directly relates to your job, like a defense contractor discussing how the election impacts the defense budget and next years contracts. Where I’ve worked overtly political displays get you pegged as closed minded and not up for a discussion or debate which rolls over from the political spectrum to work issues. Don’t ask him/her about the project unless you just want to agree with their solution. Supporting a cause or a specific issue is good, getting down to political parties and candidates is better left for discussing outside the office, regardless of your candidate

    1. Momonga*

      “The exception being if you work in that field or it directly relates to your job, like a defense contractor discussing how the election impacts the defense budget and next years contracts. ”

      Yeah, I work at a defense contractor. There are plenty of fellow liberals but politics are an ever-increasingly gross topic that keeps coming up because we can’t avoid it :(

    2. NW Mossy*

      I work in a heavily regulated industry (financial services), so we’re in a similar boat that we have to pay attention to the political winds because they affect what we can/can’t/should do for our clients. We of course have opinions about how regulations will impact our business and to some extent whether the regulations will be effective in achieving their stated aims, but we keep it to the text rather than offering commentary on their authorship.

  64. Solu*

    My office talks politics all day long, but it’s because policies affect our clients. As far as I know, everyone who works here is incredibly liberal. If anyone isn’t, they keep quiet about it. I’m not sure why they’d be working here if they were fans of the current administration.

    1. Observer*

      I know a number of people who actually voted for Trump who would fit in very well in a lot of social service agencies, if you didn’t talk politics. In fact some of them actually do some very effective social service work.

      Here is the reality. People are complex, and their reaction to politics is complex. And to reduce all of that complexity to one vote is just out of sync with reality.

      Think about this – Trump got more of the non-white vote that either McCain or Romney. I’m sure they are not “fans”, but there ultimately they had to juggle their various needs and beliefs and came down on that side. I don’t believe that the only reasons why any non-white person voted from Trump is because they are misogynists.

        1. Observer*

          Sorry about that. I wasn’t trying to make a case pro or con Trump, as much as to argue against that stereotype that if you support Trump you “can’t” be comfortable in a social service setting or that if you work in a social service setting you “must have” voted against him. It’s just waaay too simplistic and not reflective of the complex calculations people make.

  65. De Minimis*

    I work in the nonprofit sector and it seems like it’s okay to do here. I wonder though if anyone holds a different opinion and if so, how comfortable they feel in the workplace. We aren’t the type of nonprofit where it’s 100% clear what side we would be on, though we definitely fare better with one party in power vs the other. At the same time, one of our main allies in Congress is of the “other” party, but has a personal connection with some of our longtime employees so he’s always been in our corner.

    I will talk about politics with people at work, but usually just if others are already talking about it.

      1. sam*

        But it’s an important thing to note, as the OP may put herself at risk of being fired for essentially political proselytizing at work.

  66. Rachel*

    Unless you work for a political party or organization, it’s better to keep politics and work separate. Granted, it’s not that hard to figure out what side of the aisle I’m on, especially if you check out my social media posts, but I try to stay neutral at work. Easier to stay out of trouble that way. ; )

    That said, at a previous job, I shared an office with someone whom I knew was on the same page as me politically. When we wanted to talk about something political, we would close the office door and discuss.

  67. Emily*

    My supervisor is CONSTANTLY talking politics, and brings it up any time she feels it is relevant (even when it isn’t.) I have very similar political views to her, but I still find it very obnoxious. She goes on rants to anyone who will listen, without knowing (or caring) what their political views are. I just don’t see where politics ever have a place at work, unless you literally work in politics.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I had a parent who would rant on this or that. omg. Exhausting does not fully describe. The amount of energy these people take is incredible. I am sorry you are dealing with this.

  68. Rachael*

    OP, while I DO believe that politics can be discussed and debated in mature ways, unfortunately people on both sides do have trouble keeping the conversations civil (this includes people who agree with you).

    In LastJob there was a company that had red and blue cups that you can choose from to drink your coffee. I was on my lunch break and grabbed the color I identify with and absent mindedly brought it into work and sipped from it at my desk. I was confronted by someone who “didn’t appreciate me bringing politics into the workplace”.

    So, while it depends on the situation you may want to refrain from bringing politics into the office lest you stir up emotions in others who feel that they need to comments on the “flare” that you are displaying. I just had a colored cup and it was enough to draw attention to me.

    However, this is coming from someone who wore a pantsuit on election day to work. Instead of engaging in political talk , though, I just approached it with humor.

    Step 1: Wear a pantsuit.
    Step 3: Rule the world!!


          1. seejay*

            But that’s also part of the joke:

            Step #1: Do foo.
            Step #2: ??????
            Step #3: Profit!

            Most people put in the step 2, along with the ????. Hence why I put it in above. ^_^

            1. Rachael*

              Ha! However, I’m usually verbally proclaiming my intent so I have to skip that part. I got through a couple of rounds of skipping step 2 and them asking “what’s step 2?” with me just repeating the steps. It was glorious.

    1. MashaKasha*

      What on earth, though! It’s a cup! And if the company only provided red and blue cups and no other color, then how are you supposed to drink your coffee if not out of a red or a blue cup? I agree about not bringing politics into work, but that was taking it a bit too far in my opinion!

    2. The Strand*

      That’s hilarious.
      One of my former places of employment it went like this.

      Red solo cups = alcohol
      Blue solo cups = underage, soda only please.

  69. Rebeck*

    You’re all so lucky to be able to avoid politics in the workplace. In a public library even if your colleagues don’t talk politics your users do, loudly and at length. And you’re not allowed to get angry with them, even when they’re talking about how women should be in the kitchen (just after Australia got its first female Prime Minister) or how gays were ruining the country (

  70. AuburnL*

    In the nonprofit culture where I work it’s very acceptable to discuss politics. We are an arts organization and much of the art we support is overtly political. We spend a lot of time discussing boundaries and the culture also allows for open respectful dissent about most issues. I’ve always worked in either the arts or media so I’ve never worked in an environment where politics was not a regular part of work discussions even though the organizations were all nonpartisan. It would be pretty unusual for someone who was not liberal/progressive to be drawn to a he work I do though. But the spectrum of liberal /progressive views is pretty wide and it’s certainly not like we always agree. Healthy debate and discussion about big issues is a big part of our work. I’m realizing I really like and appreciate that part of our culture.

  71. Jane*

    I once worked with someone who had a photo of him and a former president on his wall in his office. Even though I don’t think it was inappropriate, since it was a president I thought was pretty terrible, it did affect the way that I viewed him. I still had a lot of respect for him and thought he was great at his job, but I was definitely put off by the photo. I think if I already had a negative view of someone and they had a photo like that, it would make things worse. So unfortunately, right or wrong, stuff like this leaves an impression (and the person with the photo may or may not care, and the topic may come up in conversation anyway, so just because you don’t have something up on your wall doesn’t mean someone won’t find out they disagree with you politically).

    1. MashaKasha*

      Wow! A photo of a person with a former president is IMO pretty cool and something I would make an exception for. Having talked to a few people who have met former presidents in person (both the ones I think were amazing and the ones I think were pretty terrible at their job), one thing I heard about all of them was that they are incredibly likeable and charismatic in person. I guess it’s part of the nature of the job. So I would totally understand, both the photo, and wanting to hang it on a wall in one’s office. But that is where I’d draw the line. No flags, no pins, no stickers. Political talk at work (both sides) tends to set my teeth on edge for some reason.

  72. SKA*

    Now if I could just get my coworker to stop bragging about his political symbol tattoo. (It’s covered, but he seems to bring it up a lot. It’s weird.)

  73. Overeducated*

    I am having so much trouble with thus right now. I work in, but not for, a nonpartisan agency, so political activity is both prohibited and damaging to our image and mission. But the hiring freeze and other restrictions are already starting to impact our work, and attacks on science funding and probable repeal of the ACA are really going to affect my and my spouse’s livelihoods and stability on a personal level. I am scared, finding it hard not to look for news updates as things are moving FAST, and having trouble keeping it out of conversations even though I know I need to.

    I don’t know. Advice? It doesn’t help that this is anot unusually slow week and it’s hard to focus when you’re trying to make work.

    1. KellyK*

      At work, try to keep conversations constructive. Things like how you’re prioritizing due to the hiring freeze, for example.

      Maybe give yourself a set time of day for news, unless keeping up with minute-by-minute coverage is necessary for your job. Since work isn’t busy, it could be at work in really small increments, but might be better at home in the evening, with a favorite beverage and a strict time limit.

      A very small dose of fatalism might also be your friend here. If you’re checking the news daily, and a political action is being taken before you have a chance to call your representative, they weren’t going to listen to you anyway (and you still have a chance to make your displeasure known), and following it minute by minute doesn’t change the outcome.

      For me, one thing that helps manage anxiety about an uncertain future is taking concrete steps that will make that future less likely to be horrible. Maybe for you that means putting more money in savings, or getting medical stuff done sooner rather than later. It might mean putting out feelers toward another job, if there’s anywhere more stable you could move to. It might just be trying to develop and deepen connections with your family, friends, and community–both because that helps in the short term and because those are people who may be able to help if you need it, and who you can likewise help if things go bad for them.

      Also, good self-care is really important. Meditation, exercise, enough sleep. Easier said than done when things are really stressful, but unfortunately the less time you have for them, the more you need them.

  74. AKJ*

    My office actually has a policy: no politics talk is allowed. I was surprised when I started, but it does make sense.
    The majority of us who work here work here *because* our political beliefs are what they are, but the same is not necessarily true of the population we serve, and we want everyone to feel comfortable coming to us for help no matter what. We don’t want a client who holds an opposing view to come in for an appointment and possibly overhear a conversation that makes them feel unwelcome. So no political symbols and no political conversations are allowed.
    Its strange, because this election could affect pretty much everything our office does, but we’ve only discussed it in terms like “If this happens then this will happen,” but with all of the vitriol that has accompanied this election I can’t say I’m sad that we have this policy.

  75. The Bimmer Guy*

    “I do think there’s an exception here for stuff that simply carries a message of inclusion and respect, like a rainbow sticker, which I’d put in a different category. ”

    Even as a gay man, I would say that rainbow stickers have their place, but you still shouldn’t beat it over your coworkers’ heads. I would display the sticker prominently somewhere, and then only start preaching if it’s relevant (like if you actually see or hear anti-LGBT expressions from a coworker). The difference with LGBT-support is that what you’re supporting are human and equality rights, not political ideologies that are highly subjective; however it will still harm you professionally if every third word out of your mouth is LGBT-related, in an environment that isn’t focused on LGBT issues.

  76. FD*

    This is great advice and boy do I wish more people followed it.

    It’s one thing to talk politics when you’re with people who can leave; it’s another to make people listen to it in an enclosed space.

    Mind you, I also wish I could get our gym to block the news channels, but I know mine is the minority opinion there.

  77. Fafaflunkie*

    Remember the old adage: political views and religious beliefs are a lot like a penis. A lot of people have one. Many are proud of theirs. But very few people want to have you whip it out or shove it down their throats. In other words, keep it in your pants is what I’m saying.

  78. Amazed*

    It’s annoying enough when done by coworkers who voted the same as I did. Just imagine how it would come across to those who didn’t!

  79. thinking about it...*

    Ya know, as I’ve been reading through people’s comments it occurs to me I wouldn’t care so much about a (discreet) simple pin, poster, whatever in someone’s space (as long as you don’t care about an opposing view in mine) but I wish people would be more careful in their comments, from both sides.
    Referring to the President in your “clever” nickname, commenting that anyone who can’t see what is happening as an imbecile or uninformed or dimwitted; referring to your choice as the “only intelligent choice” , cracking crude jokes about politicos, etc etc.; all that is way too harsh for in the office and demeans everyone.
    These side cracks (and there are many in these replies) are more damning than a poster.

    1. Jane*

      I’ve never seen this at work. Pretty common on social media, but that’s a given and fair game as its something you don’t have to look at. One would expect that this would not be done at work since you can’t really escape your workplace. I have very strong feelings about this election and I don’t disagree with the sentiment behind these statements, but I’d keep that to Facebook and out of the office.

  80. Alice*

    I’ve seen a lot of people here suggesting people restrict political talk in the workplace to industries that are intrinsically political, with examples like defense contractors and Planned Parenthood.
    I think we (broadly – I mean UK as well as US) are going to see that political and legal changes affect more professions and industries than many people expect.

  81. Master Bean Counter*


    If I were your coworker I’d probably not care about a discreet little pin or sticker. I’d care a whole lot if you constantly talked politics at work. In fact I’d judge you for reasons that aren’t your political affiliation. So please take care when expressing yourself. Most of the people you are dealing with are over saturated with political talk and views right now. This election has colored my view of so many people, and that is the greatest tragedy, to me, that has come out of the election.

  82. Lady Julian*

    At least one of my coworkers had a campaign sticker up on her office during the election. It was troubling and marginalizing, especially since my political beliefs are in the minority where I work (I’m progressive, nearly all my coworkers are conservative) and made me feel ostracized. It will only strain your relationships, not help. Work to appreciate the good in colleagues who don’t share your viewpoints, and work for political change outside of the office.

  83. Trainer*

    What I struggle with is when our clients bring up politics. For background, we have to work with our clients 1:1 (in a space shared with other employees & clients), so we can’t always remove ourselves from the discussion. Even when I agree with them, I don’t want to discuss it! Not only because it has become exhausting, but also because other clients may overhear and I don’t watch anyone to feel uncomfortable & unable to escape. I try to deflect/change the subject, etc., but that doesn’t always work.

    1. Observer*

      You could always say straight out that this discussion is not appropriate for your situation. I’m assuming that their political affiliation is not relevant to the the work you are doing with them. So the response is “Political conversations don’t really help us accomplish x, and may be uncomfortable for all of the other people who have to overhear it.”

  84. Elisabeth*

    I’m late to this and I hope I’m not repeating anyone else’s comment, but I would focus less on stating your political beliefs/decorating your cubicle with posters and more on living your politics at work. For example:

    – Does your workplace value diversity?
    – Do you hire people just like you, or do you look for people with diverse backgrounds and skills?
    – When you hear colleagues use sexist or racist language, do you call them on it (kindly/professionally/firmly)?
    – Does your workplace value families, offer maternity leave, provide flexibility around childcare?

    If the answer is no, there are ways to encourage and shift the culture around you without even being explicit about “politics.” This stuff isn’t easy at all. I struggle with it quite a bit. But I guess my point is that it’s easy to hate on the administration and it’s easy to wear a button, but making a change within ourselves and our organizations is the hard work — and ultimately, the work that is the most important.

    1. Sfigato*

      Practice, don’t preach. No one wants to listen to you complain about Trump. I work for a liberal organization, and I’m already sick of how much the administration has infected our everyday conversations (which is because its actions have direct negative effects on our work, but still). Imagine if you had a coworker who kept telling you that America was on its way to be great again and had a giant phallic trump/pence logo on their cubical wall. Or was cornering you and telling you all the latest news from Brietbart. It would stink, right? So don’t be the liberal version of that guy. Don’t assume your colleagues share your political views.

      Do what you can to change the political situation on your own time, and at work do what you can to model the behavior and attitudes you want to see (and that the majority of Americans want to see). Do what you can in your power to make your workplace as inclusive as possible, and that includes not alienating people just because they voted for the winning presidential candidate.

      That said, I’m planning on putting one of those shepard fairy posters from the women’s march up in my office, so maybe don’t listen to me.

    2. marymoocow*

      I think this is a fantastic point! Thank you for making it. I hadn’t considered that point of view.

  85. Snow Flurries*

    I had a coworker who emphatically declared that all the people who either voted for candidate a or voted against candidate b was a racist. And she meant every single person in those two categories! No exceptions! It makes me wonder how many people she had alienated in that workplace with that comment; she said it loudly and in an open area where coworkers pass through frequently. Many tried to distance themselves from her after that, regardless of what side of the aisle they supported.

    I’m not bringing this up to start a political war or any other kind of war on Alison’s blog. It’s just an (extreme) example of how you can alienate coworkers. Leave the politics at the door. You all need to work together; you don’t need to cause unwarranted/unnecessary tensions.

  86. emma2*

    So much agreement! Even if I agreed with their political views, I would completely judge someone who wore political slogans and other signs to work (assuming that the job itself is not for a political party/campaign.) It seems to lack basic perspective that comes with maturity.

  87. Lisa*

    Two things to never ever talk about at work. Politics and religion – even with people who agree with you because someone else who doesn’t agree with you might be listening and that will change your work relationship with them. You won’t change their mind but you may alienate them.

    1. MashaKasha*

      That is an excellent point. OldJob had a “no political talk at work” policy. We had a guy in a cube right next to mine, who had another coworker come into his cube every day at lunch and they would sit together and talk politics. Their views were 180 degrees opposite of mine and I was trying to eat my lunch! It was painful. I was so relieved when one of them left.

  88. Employment Lawyer*

    Eh. I say no flags, no safety pins, etc.

    You can’t make a pretend line to say “inclusion is OK.” That is a semantic trick. First, it rests on a concept that “inclusion” is the main political goal–which is itself a political statement–and second, it is often untrue, since many nominally-inclusive groups on both the right and the left act like “everyone is welcome… except those folks who we really disagree with.”

    More to the point, as soon as you allow “inclusive” things but not “offensive” things, you end up getting into the weeds at precisely the wrong point. If you don’t want to see the US flags and the Confederate flags and so on, then leave the rainbow flags at home. And before we get into the argument “but MY flag is all about inclusion and THEIR flag is all about bad things” remember that we are trying to avoid the argument in the first place.

    1. KellyK*

      I don’t think anybody’s critical of US flags, though. In my workplace, they’re everywhere.

      Also, while a safety pin does have a certain political viewpoint associated with it, the rainbow flag is a statement of identity for some people, separate from political party. There’s a lot of correlation, but it’s not absolute. If it’s inappropriate to wear a rainbow pin or flag, then it’s equally inappropriate to wear a religious symbol.

      1. Deana*

        Employment Lawyer, I absolutely agree. With the exception of the American flag, I see no reason to display any sort of pin, flag or item that might promote some sort of political discussion. With the example of the rainbow flag, well what about the gadsden flag? There are too many issues with showing any of these types of symbols in the workplace. I would err on the side of caution and discourage any type of displays of activism in the workplace.

      2. Employment Lawyer*

        Religion is a protected class. I don’t think it should be, since it’s completely malleable (you can choose any religion, or not). And of course religion is just as unacceptable as politics in the workplace. So even though it’s a special class, significant outward displays of religion are generally controllable and are always a bad idea.

        Political belief or “identity” is not a protected class and it should not be. Although it’s inappropriate to wear a rainbow flag, the general “no politics” rule conveniently makes it inappropriate to wear a confederate flag, Mexican flag, “Love it or Leave It” pin; German flag; and so on.

        The fact that you may feel really strongly about your belief, or feel like it is your “identity,” is irrelevant. EVERYONE feel strongly about what they believe, including people who disagree with you! There is no rational criteria by which you can allow rainbow flags and not Nazi flags unless you are willing to end up with “because I said so and I don’t need a reason.”

        1. KellyK*

          Wait, are you seriously arguing that no rational line can be drawn between “Hi, I’m a member of a particular religion” or “People of all sexual orientations deserve respect” and “Religions, ethnicities, and sexual orientations I dislike are genetically inferior and should be executed en masse”? Okay then…

  89. MashaKasha*

    I had a really bizarre thing happen to me at old job, right before the 2008 election. My younger son was 13 at the time. We’re in a swing state, so of course, both candidates held rallies in our city. I decided that it would be a great learning experience both for my son and me if I took him to both rallies. One was pretty straightforward, but the second rally, you had to get tickets for. I hadn’t been to an event like that before and didn’t know how early to get there, what to do with the tickets, where to go once we got there, etc. I made a mistake of asking a coworker for advice. I didn’t even say which rally, just mentioned the tickets. He said “I’ll be right back”, disappeared, and reappeared again with, I kid you not, a binder stuffed full of printouts and newspaper clippings all trashing the other candidate (that I was going to vote for). Walked me into my cube, put the binder in front of me, and opened it saying “I don’t usually show this to people at work, but since you expressed interest”. I did not want to see any of that stuff. It was so insanely awkward. I probably looked like a trapped animal when I said to him “I’m actually voting for the other guy”. He closed the binder and left my cube and we never spoke of it again. So, if anyone here is wondering, no binders, no scrapbooks. None of that stuff is okay at work.

  90. Federal Procurement Analyst*

    I wore head to toe black for a full month after the election. I also have not watched CNN, MSNBC, or any national news coverage since then.

    As a minority woman, this election has been debilitating to my mental health, seriously. Any person wearing a make America great again hat is showing the same insensitivity as the one they support.

    I remember when Harold Washington was elected as the first black mayor of Chicago back in 1980. I worked with mostly caucasians and the office atmosphere was tense because of the lack of discussion! Many of them were clearly not pleased.

    That said, I’m completely burned out. My SO loves politics, but he has to watch HGTV with me. I have a personal action plan, but constantly reading and watching the awfulness? Nope.

  91. VelociraptorAttack*

    I previously worked in politics extensively so my previous work comes up from time to time.I have a photo of myself with President Obama that was taken during this time and at every job since, I’ve made a point to test the waters of the office for about a week and then discuss it with my supervisor before displaying it.

    Naturally, my resume ensures I end up at places that are at least tolerant of my political views since they aren’t exactly hidden but I give supervisors the option to decide if it seems like an overt political stance or if it is unacceptable for the office.

    Because of the photo my political views are to known to my coworkers, they can come back and have a quick chat. I also work in academia so my field does lean more toward the progressive side (which is the same side of the fence that I am on) but I keep this conversations short, civil, and quiet.

  92. Deana*

    I would just like to add to PLEASE keep politics off your LinkedIn profile as well! I’ve noticed so many political posts in my feed, many from clients and colleagues that I work with professionally. LinkedIn should be an extension of your behavior in your office. Do your best not to “like” or comment on any political posts either. I think people lose sight of the fact that if they comment or like something it shows up in people’s news feeds just as a post would. It’s shocking to see some of the things people comment on. Especially people you only know professionally. I would hate to alienate a portion of my professional network because of my political views.

  93. nonprofit fun*

    I wonder how this would translate to talking politics on Facebook? I’m Facebook friends with a number of my coworkers (not my manager though), and I am pretty vocal about political issues on there. Some of my coworkers agree, while others don’t. I don’t ever bring it up in the office and I don’t THINK my posts are unnecessarily offensive, just opinionated. But my political leanings are no secret to those who follow me on social media. Do you guys think this is okay? Anyone who doesn’t want to see my posts is free to unfollow me, but sometimes I wonder if people find it harder to work with me because of my views.

    1. Remote emp*

      I’m exactly the same way! I would never bring up anything in the workplace, but I do view my facebook as my space to express things that are important to me. I am friends with some of my co-workers, but only because they requested me. I have not gone out of my way to request to be friends with anyone from work. I also am not friends with any of my managers. I’ve removed my employer from my facebook, so it doesn’t show where I work. I don’t want my views to reflect on my employer, because they are of course politically neutral. I’ve seen my coworkers post political things and then like or comment on each others posts, so I know we are on opposite sides politically. It doesn’t bother me one bit that we disagree, and I don’t think anything differently of them after knowing their political affiliation. I’m not sure if they feel the same way about me though. : /

    2. KellyK*

      I keep my coworkers on a “No politics or religion” list and filter accordingly. Honestly, I think it depends a lot on your specific office and the personalities of your specific coworkers. It has a chance to alienate some people. It also has a chance to spark good discussions if your posts are thoughtful and respectful. I personally avoid it because I work in an industry that doesn’t align with my own political views, and I don’t want it to adversely affect me at work. I also don’t want to get into any heated conversations with coworkers.

  94. Observer*

    I haven’t had a chance to read all the replies, but I’m with Allison. DO NOT DO THIS.

    This stuff just doesn’t belong there. Not Nobama, “Lock her up” or #NeverTrump. It doesn’t matter what the opinion is, it matters that you are expressing it at work in an inappropriate manner.

    Also, if you or your desk / monitor is visible to people outside of your organization, you could create problems. If your organization gets government money, you WILL cause problems (and this would have been true even before Trump, so this is not about that.)

  95. CDR*

    The NLRB does protect the rights of employees to talk about politics in the workplace (even non-union environments). That being said, I would not personally display a political message in my workspace because I think it is a matter of respect and I wouldn’t want to cause any conflict.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, only the right to discuss politics that involve labor issues, like wages and working conditions. It doesn’t protect the right to discuss electoral politics, or abortion rights, or so forth.

    1. Observer*

      I’m sure there are. And I’m sure that a number of people are going to change their minds over time, too. But I don’t really think it’s relevant to the question. The issue is not whether the OP is “right” or “wrong”. The issue is whether it’s appropriate to have overt political signage in a publicly view-able spot in an office. And, the general rule is NO, regardless of whether the opinion expressed is popular or not.

  96. Cath in Canada*

    I know I’m late to this, but here’s my experience as someone who has felt similarly about elections and governments in other countries (namely Thatcher in the UK and Harper in Canada).

    This “feel the need to express that firmly in all facets of my life” is something that I felt too in the initial acute phase after each election, and certain other political events such as the passing of a new law. However, the acute, all-encompassing phase does pass – if it didn’t, you’d burn out – and you eventually reach a “new normal”. That doesn’t mean that you have to accept things the way they are (my own “new normal” included several years worth of going to various anti-Harper protests, writing to politicians, and donating to opposition parties and affected causes), but it does mean that you start to pace yourself, to pick your battles. If you follow the same trajectory, your eventual “new normal” is likely to include some compartmentalisation, where you no longer want politics and activism to seep into every single facet of your life. At that point, you’re likely to feel relieved that you didn’t bring all this stuff into your workplace during the initial acute phase.

    Supplementary (probably less good) advice: if you’re looking for something with plausible deniability, you can always put a Star Wars Rebel Alliance symbol up somewhere. I saw lots of them at the march I went to on Saturday (I wore a Princess Leia costume myself and borrowed one of those “A Woman’s Place is in the Resistance” sign for part of the route), but hey, lots of people just like the movies… ;)

    Best of luck OP – try not to burn out. Slow and steady wins the race!

  97. Quinalla*

    Yeah, don’t do it. Put that energy into volunteering and supporting all the organizations you can, but don’t do it at work. The day after the election, my small office took about 5-10 minutes of our weekly meetings to talk about it and then we said ok, enough of that and its been back to business. Even that felt weird because you just don’t talk politics at work, it’s taboo for a reason.

    Now that doesn’t mean you can’t stand up for your values at work when appropriate, safe, etc. you can and that is something I do when I can. I’ve advocated for gender neutral bathrooms, better diversity training, etc. I thank people for using inclusive language (everyone or folks instead of guys or gentlemen – can you tell I’m in a male dominated industry), push back when people say something racist or sexist (not common, but it happens), etc.

  98. Internet Marketing Manager*

    I could not picture anything more annoying than some strident political activist force feeding me their opinions on the news of the day while at work. People that feel the need to politicize every facet of life need to take a deep breath and think about what they are doing. I know they feel very strong about their opinions, but not everyone agrees with them. (Horrible, I know.) Leave it at home people.

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