Elections are over and the results are in. Perhaps you're disappointed but some of your coworkers are elated. Or you're pleased but your office mate is fuming.
The reality is that this election has been stressful and overwhelming. How can you keep tensions at bay and keep your relationships intact?
Be accepting of different opinions
When opinions and values clash, the easiest way to keep the peace is to just agree to disagree. Regardless of how you feel about your coworker’s opinions, that person is still your colleague. So the most important thing is to maintain a respectful workplace and not let differences interfere with your ability to work together. There are many things you’ll disagree on or value differently, but you and your colleague can still work together by putting differences aside and focusing on the job at hand.
Make time, make space.
Give yourself and others time and space to let emotions die down. If you feel your temperature start to rise, take a time out. Ask for the day off if you need to. Avoid political conversations with people who you know have views that are radically different from your own. Suggest to management that they create a "politics-free" zone in the office, where no talk of *any* politics is allowed.
And remember that not all reactions happen immediately. Election night was the big reveal but people you interact with may show a range of emotions for the next few days and even weeks. This is particularly true as media reports fuel the feelings of uncertainty and speculation. Be alert to yourself or your coworkers seeming more sensitive than normal, and give or take the space needed.
A time for leadership
If you’re a manager, now is the time for you to flex your skills as a leader. Show leadership and set the example by not getting involved in heated discussions with employees, and diffusing situations when you see them brewing. Of course you have your own opinions and feelings on these topics, but your first responsibility at the office is to focus your team on the business of the company. Get clearance from your management that you have the latitude to allow people to leave the environment, either to take a break or a walk, go home for the day, etc. Accept that the next few days may not be very productive, as your team processes what it all means for them, their families and their futures.
"When I walked into my workplace on Wednesday morning, it was obvious that emotions were high. So we got everyone together (live and virtual) to acknowledge this fact, remind people of our core values of treating people respectfully and accepting differences, and opened the floor for people to air any concerns. We then gave them the option of taking the rest of the day off if they needed to. While this was important for that moment in time, the entire leadership team will continue to keep our fingers on the pulse of how people are feeling and acting over the next few days and weeks."
This election has been one of the most polarizing ones in recent history. However that doesn’t mean you have to let your work relationships fall victim to this stress. It takes two to tango, and you have complete control over what you say and do. As long as you keep your ultimate goal in mind - maintaining good relationships with your colleagues - you’ll be able to get through this time and help others do the same.
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Traunza Adams, Head of People Ops
Traunza has led HR & People Ops in companies of various sizes, growth stages and industries, including B2B enterprise software, B2C software and services, and non-profit mental health. The list includes Oracle, Salesforce, Saba Software, Plumtree Software, Coremetrics, Seneca Center for Families, UniversityNow, and AppDynamics. At Ginger.io, Traunza combines her passion for building great teams and companies with her personal mission to empower communities and be an agent of change in emotional and mental health. Learn more about joining our team.