Lucas: Why It's Time to Stop Bashing Trump

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

No. I still regard Trump as the worst of a horrible pack of presidential candidates and would likely vote for Clinton over him if the "choice" came to that. But what a headline! It sure grabbed my attention when Suzanne Lucas, aka The Evil HR Lady, used it.

But her column isn't about politics so much as it is about cultivating professional relationships. Refreshingly, Lucas doesn't hew to the mindless prohibition against discussing politics at all that I've seen passed off as good etiquette. Like Judith Martin, my favorite etiquette expert, Lucas gives general guidelines and explains why they are a good idea to follow:

Instead of attacking a political candidate or someone's idea about improving your widget, try saying something positive about your own idea. Example: "I really like [candidate X] because I think [favorite cause] is the most important thing in this election. I really like [candidate X's] record on that."

That allows your employee to respond, "Well, I really like [candidate Y] because I appreciate the way he/she has [accomplishment] so well." Then you can have a polite conversation. At no point do you say, "Well, if you like candidate Y, you're an idiot." You don't even say "Candidate Y is an idiot" even if you believe that with your whole soul.
Lucas's point is that the work environment depends on collaboration, and a major part of collaboration is the premise that one can offer one's views for consideration and get a fair hearing. Lucas rightly notes that personal attacks related to a non-work matter not only fail to convince, but also cause the person on the other end to be wary of advancing his opinion about other things, including those related to the job.

Although politics is not ordinarily an appropriate subject at work, the fact is that people will bring it up from time to time. I am grateful to the Evil HR Lady for offering a way to make such times constructive. Having read this, I feel less likely to get caught off-guard and feeling like I have the "choice" of sounding rude or wrongly appearing to agree with someone when I don't. Best of all, as with all good advice, it is easy to see how this can apply to other situations.

-- CAV

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