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Background:

A few months ago, a new co-worker A joined the company. He was hired as a SEO expert social media marketer. Due to the nature of his job, he is always active on various social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter & Youtube. He's also obsessed with politics. Fortunately, all of the employees here are supporting the same political party (otherwise the whole situation would have been a hell for me). He is always listening to the news while working using headphones. Every time a breaking news comes, he immediately shares it loudly and everyone in the working hall except me welcome this news and start commenting on it.

All of the co-workers in the hall sit close to each other and keep discussing the political matters of the country. I don't get involved unless it seems very important to make a point.

Two days ago this person A made an argument that the party leader should do this instead of that and I really got triggered and said: "YOU SHOULD BE HIS ADVISOR".

PROBLEM:

Put simply, I am really bothered and overwhelmed with these political discussions at work even though we all support the newly elected political party. Yesterday I was so overwhelmed that I went to the manager and told him the truth and asked him to let me go home for today. He said "Yes, I understand the situation and can't help it because of the election environment as he himself is involved in discussions" and allowed me to go home.

What I want to communicate ?

I want to know, how can I ask my co-workers to stop discussing and gossiping over political matters of the country.

Currently, I am trying not to engage myself in these discussions by keeping quiet and using headphones so that I don't listen to those Breaking News & political advice

I am pretty sure that this matter will persist when election season ends because people here are obsessed with political parties and affairs

  • Are there any co-workers you are close enough to that you could discuss this with? Other people may also not want to get constantly going on politics, it can be exhausting. If there are multiple people who want to quiet it down that would be easier than just yourself. – DaveG Jul 27 '18 at 13:14
  • Including me, we are 5 people in this working hall and none of them seen to dislike it. I am happy for the weekend because I can keep away from this problem. – Ahsan Jul 27 '18 at 13:15
  • This can be done on coming Monday. After that, I will add a comment about how it went. – Ahsan Jul 27 '18 at 13:24
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I'm sorry, but I think you're going to have to let this one go.

There's been several similar questions on the Workplace exchange, and while none are identical to yours, they all carry the same theme: politics creeping into the workplace.

Similarly, there's a theme to the answers: If it's harmful to the company, tell the manager. If that doesn't work, keep your head down. In particular, Masked Man gives this answer to the promotional items question:

Never let go of an opportunity to mind your own business. You have nothing to gain from getting involved in a confrontation over it. Ignore it and move on with your work.

I'm afraid to say I think that's the correct course of action here too. Throughout the course of your question, you've said:

  • all of the employees here are supporting the same political party
  • everyone in the working hall except me welcome this news and start commenting on it
  • All of the co-workers in the hall sit close to each other and keep discussing the political matters of the country
  • that your manager said "Yes, I understand the situation and can't help it",
  • people here are obsessed with political parties and affairs

It seems that your company has embraced this change in culture; that it's become baked in. At this point, then, what you're asking is "how can I reverse an accepted change in my company's culture", and I don't know that you can. You can try to ask employee A directly to stop, but I think we both know that's not a likely prospect.

If you believe it's genuinely harmful to the company, then you should bring it up with your manager. Unfortunately, you have and he's effectively told you to deal with it. The next best resource would be HR, but I don't advise you turn there. There's a trope on the Workplace that HR is not your friend.

In one particular question on the topic, Dan correctly points out:

HR won't pick sides. They won't say if you are doing right, or if the other guy is doing right. Instead they will look if there are any legal issues and if they have to protect the company or not. Chances are though if you're constantly complaining, they'll just find a reason to fire you.

The alternative, then, is to poll your coworkers' opinions on it. If there's support for cutting the political talk out of the office, then as a collective it may be worth bring attention to your manager again. This time, be sure to point to definitive negative effects the conversations have. If several people find it distracting, say "we all agree, it makes it hard for us to stay focused on our work." Don't present the issue as harmful to you; present it as harmful to the company.

However, from the context of your question, it seems most people in your company enjoy the conversations. That shifts your goal from changing only person A's behavior to changing your entire office's behavior, and I don't think you have a strong enough case to do so.

If I were you, I would stay un-involved, and get better headphones. If you'd like advice on how best to do this, I'd point you again to the first linked question; in particular, I think Monica's answer gives the best advice here.

  • I was about to write something along these same lines, so I'll just content myself with an upvote. I agree there is little or nothing that can be done. In any team work environment, there's always the question whether a new member fits in and creates harmony or discord. You can try and screw your eyes closed and shut it out, or -- as the saying goes -- if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. If you have the same political opinions, then why not just engage and create a friendlier atmosphere? – Andrew Jul 27 '18 at 16:00
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One way to try to fix this is to feel out the co-workers on whether they really want to spend their time getting worked up about politics. 24 hour politics can be exhausting even when everyone (pretty much) agrees.

Try to sound people out separately from the work discussion. Don't approach it as "please be quiet I'm trying to work" but rather in some other setting like lunch, mention how tiring or difficult to concentrate it can be with lots of politics going on. Other people may chime in and agree, at which point you can steer the conversation towards trying to tone down the politics.

Doing this as a group will come across a lot better and be a lot easier than you individually telling people what to do.

  • The challenge here is that the behavior is already a given part of the work environment, and has the approval of the manager. It seems like the rest of the team welcomes the chance to take a break and blow off some steam, and if it doesn't affect productivity, it's kind of a win-win. If one person is determined to disrupt what is essentially a team-bonding experience -- and a free one at that -- as the manager I'd question if they were a good fit. – Andrew Jul 27 '18 at 18:37
  • @Andrew What I'm saying is that it may be that some of the team feel as the OP does (would like to tone the politics down) but don't want to "rock the boat". Mentioning it casually gives those people a chance to chime in (should they so desire). – DaveG Jul 27 '18 at 19:23
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Whatever you do, make sure your arguments are always from the point of view of the business side of things, that way, it translates to the work environment having a problem instead of the worker (read: you) being the problem: The problem is that loud political discussions are disturbing your work and making you less efficient (and everyone else as well, as they are discussing politics instead of working).

  1. The first step is to find out what your company's policy about this is; as most (at least large) companies have some kind of policies about political discussions in the workplace and/or about disturbing other employees work with idle banter and most of those policies say: Don't do it, keep it in your pants / do it in the break room.

It's obvious that if almost all of the people in the unit you work in share similar political views, such policies can be left unenforced, but if you find one, you can use it as leverage when you tell your manager (or whoever you end up dealing with) that this is getting in the way of your work.

  1. Your manager being a part of the problem signals to me that he is not the best person to solve the problem for you (again, company policy is what you need to figure out first - who is the person you turn to when your manager is the problem / part of the problem / not fixing the problem, if you don't know, turn to HR and they will tell you who that person is, if you don't have HR, turn to his boss with a "I'm sorry to disturb you but I don't know who to turn to with this problem" -type of message explaining the problem as objectively as possible - don't blame specific people for it, just explain the cause-and-effect of it - and the need for a solution / policy). This might not be possible / work in a non-corporate environment, where policies and strict adherence to set rules are not so important and managers lead with a from-the-hip -attitude.

  2. If your company has no policy on it or is very liberal about this, you can always get noise-cancelling earphones (or -plugs) and put 'em on while you work (personal favourite, I don't know how people can live without them in the modern world) or when the political rambling starts. Just remember to first find out if your company can supply them to you before making the purchase yourself (depending on the way these things work in your company, you may need to make a formal requisition either to your manager or to a specific unit in the company).

  • Problem is that It is a small company and no such rules are defined and so far noise cancelling earphone or headphone are my only option. – Ahsan Jul 27 '18 at 19:01

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