Addressing Political Tension in the Workplace

Addressing Political Tension in the Workplace

We are in a moment of increased political tension in our workplaces, schools, and homes, from Supreme Court Rulings to the upcoming mid-term elections. Your people may be experiencing anxiety, fear, frustration, and overall mental stress. We have compiled some tips for your leaders and people to help navigate the increased tension.  

Tips For Leaders: 

  • Proactively acknowledge the heightened energy and emotions that surround a political event in neutral communication.  
  • Model the desired behaviors. In tough times of stress people carefully watch the words and actions of leaders. Speak briefly and resist interruption.  
  • Empower managers to handle a variety of responses and how to prevent conversations from escalating into hostility. 
  • There could be joy and grief. Listen actively. People should speak from their own experiences and not try to represent others or entire groups.  
  • Show leadership through empathy.  
  • Ensure workers know how to access your EAP and other well-being resources for resources and confidential counseling.  

Self-Care in Times of Increased Stress:

  • MONITOR HOW MUCH MEDIA YOU CONSUME. Constant exposure to political upheaval can create anxiety, insomnia, and symptoms of trauma. Evaluate how the news makes you feel. Take a break from the news and political banter to ease anxiety.  
  • SET BOUNDARIES AROUND POLITICAL CONVERSATIONS.  It can be challenging if you disagree with the political views of coworkers, family, and friends. If you choose to discuss politics, focus your conversations on curiosity and friendly debate rather than persuasion. 
  • AVOID COMMON THINKING TRAPS. Thinking traps are negative thought patterns that block you from seeing things clearly and rationally. Some common thinking traps include:  
    • Catastrophizing: Forecasting the future in the worst-case scenarios  
    • Overestimating: Believing that these negative scenarios will actually occur  
    • Negative filtering: Negating positive facts about situations and one’s ability to cope 
    • Check in: Notice your thoughts when you feel a spike in anxiety or stress.  
    • Re-examine: Reevaluate your thoughts and consider alternative, rational thoughts.  
    • Take action: Replace catastrophic thoughts with productive action, such as problem-solving and self-care. 
  • TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF.  Create healthy habits to manage stress. Consider meditation, going out in nature, reading a book, or working on a hobby. Studies show that moving our bodies, including walking, biking, or even dancing, can improve mental health and reduce anxiety and depression. Make sure you get enough sleep and exercise, eat a healthy diet, and avoid using alcohol and drugs. Below are links to some mindfulness and relaxation exercises: 

If you need to talk to a professional, reach out to your EAP or contact Perspectives Counseling and Psychotherapy Centers at 866-296-5262.