Dear Dr. Mimi:
I have become frustrated at work, as my colleagues spend much of the time arguing and talking about politics and other issues that are not at all work-related. It frustrates me, and takes me away from my focus and productivity, but I don’t know how to ask them to stop! I also don’t want to be excluded from other conversations. What can I do?
The old rule of thumb is that sex, religion and politics are not office topics. Refrain from showing disdain for every politics-related conversation, and avoid taking sides. If it becomes overwhelming, try to shift the conversation to a different direction, or even politely ask if you can talk about something else and suggest a different topic. If the conversation reaches a hostile extent, you may want to consider involving HR, in order to ensure everyone has the opportunity to enjoy a work environment that is stimulating and productive, rather than distracting and frustrating. Do remain positive and nonpartisan in your conversations.