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I am currently a member of a 4-member team. There is a current national political issue that is very divisive in our region (we are in India). The team lead and both other members of the team are on one side, and I am on the other.

The team lead is actively promoting his side on social media and discusses it in the office, trying to start a discussion. I have tried to just avoid the topic but it keeps coming up. I feel like the relationship between me and my team members is suffering because of the difference in opinion on this political issue.

How can I improve the relationship with my team members with this giant political issue causing a divide?

  • BVR, does your boss know your political views already, or can he guess your political views due to the region you are from? – jmac Sep 17 '13 at 1:11
  • You might have some success by creating diversionary responses. In the US, we have supposedly two ends of the political spectrum, but what they often have in common is the idea that the state should intervene in personal affairs - which affairs depends on the party/persuasion. So a diversion in this case would be to hint that the government should simply stay away and leave people alone. If this deals with some kind of criminal or corrupt behavior, of course, this isn't helpful. – Meredith Poor Sep 17 '13 at 22:17
  • Often issues get framed in ways that make it look like some group is being exploited and some other group or individual is 'taking advantage' of the group being exploited. This is intended to perpetuate an ethos of 'victimhood', one which the 'advocate' seeks to 'correct'. Often the 'advocate' is making money from supporters, some of whom are the 'victims' and some of whom are the 'enemies' of the 'exploiters'. So one has to pry the lid off the campaign and look at the motives of the actors. Often the ultimate goal is simply to make money. – Meredith Poor Sep 17 '13 at 22:23
  • Related: workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/4309/… – Jim G. Oct 2 '13 at 18:50
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"I prefer not to discuss politics with coworkers."

"No really, I'd rather not. How was your weekend?" (Or "how's your son's rugby team doing this season?" or "what did you think about the CEO's presentation?" or "what do you think is working well in our scrum process?" or anything else specific).

Just because he wants to talk about it doesn't mean you have to -- but you may have to repeat this approach a few times before he gets the message.

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    Monica's answer is correct. In my company we hired a fellow who absolutely could not stop trying to get people argue about politics. I made the mistake of letting him know I thought he was wrong on some issue, and he just wouldn't let that go. He made it is mission life to correct my mistaken thinking. After I'd told him to not bring this up at work he just keep doing it. To make a long story short...we fired him. Don't feed the troll!!! Refuse to talk politics at work! – Jim In Texas Sep 16 '13 at 21:07
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Your choices seems to be as follows:

  1. Agree as mildly as you can and change the subject.
  2. Disagree and state why
  3. Change the subject whenever it comes up.
  4. Talk to your boss privately and explain that you would prefer not be involved in political discussions at work. You might also point out that you being in the group on the opposite side of this issue is making you feel uncomfortable and singled out making it hard to be accepted.

Personally I would take option number 3.

If that doesn't work take number 4. It honestly tells your boss that you are uncomfortable and allows you to get out of expressing a public opinion.

If your boss is such a jerk that he still doesn't back off, option 1, while dishonest, is the probably most viable option because he clearly won't stop until you agree with him.

Option 2 is the riskiest if this subject is as important to your boss as it appears to be.

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If you have made it clear that you do not want to discuss politics and he keeps pressing the issue with you then look at maybe raising a grievance with HR because it is creating a hostile work environment for you.

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I'm of the mindset that all work places should make it policy to not talk politics, religion or anything other than the weather, the weekend and work as acceptable topics. Most things completely derail productivity. Simple as that.

As for you situation, if it were me, I would say "This isn't the time or place for that discussion, we have work to do." and from there I proceed as normal.

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