Workplace Conversations

My relationship is a little like that of political consultants, James Carville and Mary Matalin. Known as fierce defenders of their individual political beliefs, they don’t hold back any opinion regardless of what the other might think. The Democratic National Convention ended last week and as I patiently (with just a few defending arguments) listened to the opinions of my significant other during dinner, I was reminded that not everyone is willing to forgive and forget. We are all passionate about the things that we believe. Be it politics, social acceptance, sports teams, health care or any of the hundreds of other topics just ready to explode at the right (or sometimes not so right) moment. It’s true that we are all entitled to our opinions. However, I want to remind everyone that sharing your personal beliefs should be carefully considered when in the workplace. Just because you believe strongly about something doesn’t mean that your co-worker feels the same way. Depending on the topic, you may unknowingly set the ball in motion for a Human Resources charge for anything from harassment to discrimination. Comments about protected classes within Title VI such as religion or race can end up getting you disciplined or even fired from a job. Any Google search regarding terminations for public or workplace statements will pull up several recent posts. And, if you are an employer, we encourage you to establish policies regarding workplace conduct, including public social media involvement as this could become an issue for you and your company as well. Consider providing sensitivity training to your staff so that all will be aware of the types of comments and actions that could be considered offensive to others and land you and the company in trouble. It may seem like common sense what is appropriate and what isn’t for the workplace, but often this proves to be a complicated subject.