It’s okay to talk about politics at work. It’s okay to disagree with people you respect and admire. In fact, I think it’s important to practice having difficult and complex discussions at work. You can’t punch your coworker in the nose for having a different opinion, can you? We can take what we have learned about civil discourse and bring it home to our families.
Your job is a dry run for Thanksgiving dinner.
Political discussions at work can be healthy; however, there’s always one guy in the office who thinks he’s a sensible version of Tim Russert — just the facts, ma’am — when he is really nothing more than a hyperbolic partisan jokester. That’s okay. You should tolerate him. It’s good practice.
Unless it gets ugly.
You never have to put up with someone saying anything racist, sexist or homophobic. While there’s no magic HR fairy who can stop someone from being a jerk, you can get up and walk away. I talk about that in this video.
There is no reason to stick and participate in a conversation if someone says something that offends you to your core. In fact, sticking around gives people permission to say additional stupid things. While it’s not illegal to be a misinformed jackass, it’s inexcusable.
In a very calm way, you can apologize for interrupting and walk away.
And it’s over.
If you are lucky, the self-proclaimed political guru will get a clue and apologize later. But I wouldn’t wait around for it. Let it go and get back to work.