Closer Than Ever: Having Difficult Conversations While Working Remotely

At ibble, we endorse engaging in difficult conversations with people of differing perspectives. We’re also advocates of protecting people’s wellbeing. Navigating topics like politics is tough no matter who you are or who you’re talking to but can be especially frustrating in the workplace.

On a general rule, common sense decided to keep politics out of work. With political alignments being very closely tied to social and moral values, a small conversation about who you’ve voted for can turn quickly into an “Us vs. Them” situation. Full disclosure, we at ibble tried having a #politics channel among us, and it QUICKLY got shut down. But we’re having candid conversations about how it CAN work. Here are some resources we’re finding useful and might be of interest to you too:

#1: Talking Politics At Work

Good article with valid advice for a few kinds of uncomfortable scenarios you might find yourself in. They also happen to be a job searching website, so … if things HAVE escalated to the point of no return, Monster can help you out (not sponsored).

#2: 14 Tips For Smoothly Navigating Difficult Conversations With Colleagues

Solid resource for general advice around difficult conversations you need to have with colleagues. Some of these can be applied to keeping your composure when your coworker Sue says it’s “stupid to vote.”

#3: How Should HR Handle Political Discussions at Work?

Great stats and super informative for any managers, bosses, or HR personnel who have been or feel they will be at a loss when it comes to relieving tensions between coworkers on different ends of the political spectrum.

It’s a lengthy article, but we’ve read it for you! Here are three key takeaways:

  • Employers of private workplaces can “set their own rules about what speech is acceptable” (with some jurisdiction exceptions), but they cannot outright ban political talk because discussing labor-related issues is protected by law.
  • Civil discussions about politics should be acceptable, “but you can’t force them on people.” If one or more parties says they would like to be finished with a conversation or would not like to continue it, then that needs to be the end of it.
  • Some overarching advice, “If you’re not willing to have a 2-way conversation [then] your best option is to keep quiet.”

Our social media manager, Clara, would be remiss if we didn’t drop in Brené Brown at least once, so here it goes. In her Ted Talk about the power of vulnerability, Brown remarks about politics that “there’s no discourse anymore, there’s no conversation, there’s just blame.” She recalls her time as a social worker and the advice given to her to “lean into the discomfort of the work.” Discussing subjects like politics or religion, or the economy can be at times extremely uncomfortable. But in our time as human beings, we should all learn to be O.K. with the discomfort that comes with these topics. Compassion for ourselves, compassion for others, and — in our experience — a sense of humor will help us take those uncomfortable conversations with a sense of levity and as something we can work out through conversation rather than something that will send us in a spiral.

We’re learning with you all how to balance personal life with business life — it’s not easy. Especially working at home. Slack messages can be misinterpreted, tone gets misconstrued, ideas become harder to convey, and team synchronicity can be stunted. Not to mention the lack of separation between family drama and your work desk. ibble is with you while we navigate a new normal, and if you have any resources or advice you found useful around anything we’ve talked about, let us know!

Start a conversation on ibble, DM us your resources, tag us in your IG post. We want to hear your thoughts, and maybe you can tell that coworker Sue to meet you on ibble after work for a better discussion 😉.

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