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Remaining respectful when conversations get political

Remaining respectful when conversations get political

Remaining respectful when conversations get political

 

This week’s article is going to divert slightly from the discussions we have on EDI practices and how to improve workplaces practices, though we will get on to talking about how that is relevant to today’s post. This is why this article will discuss how to be respectful about being respectful and ensuring you do not prejudice or discriminate colleagues or groups of people when discussing current affairs or politics. If you may be wondering why DJM has chosen to take this topic on this week, well, it’s because in this current moment there is global and political unrest in numerous countries. The unrest is a political matter, a human rights matter, and a diversity matter. Let us explain why.

Whether it is online, in person or over the phone, when a big political or shift takes place that causes civil unrest, it is a given that people will talk about it. This platform is going to use its voice, to not only raise awareness some of the world’s citizens are facing, but also ensure that those same individuals, people who come from the same background are not discriminated against or suffer any hate. When discussions and debates begin about who is at fault for the unrest, the blame game can get in the way of respectful and insightful discussions about what events and perhaps how to raise awareness or providing useful resources that will educate individuals more holistically on the matter.

Should we even discuss politics and current affairs in the office?

Well, we do have to ask ourselves a question. Is it even worth discussing politics and current affairs in the office if it is going to cause disagreements and conflicts in the workplace? Within many workplaces there are some unspoken rules, do not discuss politics and religion in the workplace. This is because politics and religion are often linked to the personal thoughts and ideals a person identifies with. In debates and discussions that end in disagreement, individuals can feel like they’re getting personally attacked- resulting in workplace conflict.

Current Global Civil Unrest

Many of you reading this article may already have some knowledge with what is going in the world. Unfortunately, there is a lot of devastation and civil unrest spanning numerous countries, from Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, and Algeria. Of course, there is much that is going in every country of the world. However, these have been globalised and televised. Here, we are going to provide a rough summary of what current world events, civil unrest, and traumas we will be discussing in this article:

Afghanistan

There is currently a human rights crisis in Afghanistan, after Joe Biden decided to vacate the American troops in the country. After the president fled the country, the Taliban quickly took control of the country, barring any citizens from fleeing the country bey land. Currently one of the only ports of exit is Kabul International Airport. For those who do not know, the Taliban is an armed group that operate often in crime, and intimidation. Currently there is a frenzy in the country where citizens are trying to seek refugee status in any country they can. Currently many international organisations from the UN and NATO believe that this is a human rights crisis that needs urgent attention and support.

 

Lebanon

Lebanon is currently undergoing one of the worst economic and financial crises, after the government’s debt began to pile up dramatically. Banks are frozen and out of service and the currency has completely crashed leaving many of Lebanon’s citizens. Due to corruption and government mismanagement that the citizens are currently suffering.

There are many more issues that we could go into detail about, but rather than listing them there will be linked resources that we can touch upon to have a look at matters in certain countries further.

Talking tips for discussing politics and current affairs in the workplace:

  1. If you are bringing up politics an d current affairs into the workplace, avoid anything that you know will cause heated arguments and disagreements
    1. This includes pointing out the flaws of a religious belief, gender ideologies, a countries culture to name a few, as you do not know what impact your words can have on your colleagues or what their beliefs are.
  2. Listening to all perspectives is key
    1. One of the best ways to get a holistic point of view about a current world event that involves devastation or community trauma, is to listen to those who have lived experience, or to listen to all perspectives that are being put out into the discussion. Of course, you are under no obligation to agree with what anyone is saying. The purpose of active listening is to help you understanding different perspectives and show compassion for different circumstances and experiences.
  3. When it comes to discussing anything to do with politics, current affairs or lived events- it is important to be knowledgeable about them.
    1. Before you begin adding your input to these issue or subject topics, ask yourself these few questions:
    2. Do I have reliable knowledge and understanding of these events?
    3. What sources am I drawing from? Are they reliable?
    4. The reason this is so important, is because you want to prevent the spread of misinformation. Secondly, certain outlets purposefully portray wrongful or biased opinions of an event, people/ person and that can also skew an unknowledgeable person’s opinion of what is happening in an unproductive way.
  4. This ties very much into the pervious point, but apart from hearing what your colleagues have to say- educate yourself.
    1. This one is a chance for you to be proactive and teach yourself more about what is going on in another location, people, history or a political ideology or concept.
  5. Ensure that your comments are not a personal attack on a colleague or a group of people
    1. As a community of workers and employees we need to be mindful of what we are saying and how respect others within a workplace. In this capacity we need to keep what we are saying in check, and this can begin with regulating our emotions and ensuring that political discussions are not taken to a point of no return or inevitable conflict.
  6. Avoid making sweeping statements or absolutist views.
    1. When we say absolutist views, we are talking about being stuck in an opinion and not taking any other perspectives that differ from you into account. Also avoid making general sweeping statements about groups of people, a faith, country, or sexuality etc…
    2. Often political discussions fall into these very important diversity discussions as often the EDI and workplace strategies we work to implement in our workplaces are also effective in tackling the discussion of current affairs and politics.

 

This political discussion can often be divisive and conflicting; however, it would be naïve to think that these political and current affairs discussions would not enter different workforces. Now more than ever, companies and individuals are expected to take a position or a side when it comes to politics and current affairs. Whilst it is fine to get these discussions started it is important to keep yourself and your colleagues in check when views begin to become polarised, as this is when certain individuals, faiths or ethnicities can succumb to discrimination or prejudice.

We want to hear your thoughts as to whether you think workplace politics discussions are appropriate or not.

Written by EDI specialist- Mahnoor Ahmad