Archive for Sunday, November 2, 2008

Talk about the election without stepping on toes

November 2, 2008


Sure, everybody's talking about the election. But doing so haphazardly may end up putting you in an uncomfortable spot.

Some advice:


¢ Stick to the facts. Don't get emotional, personal or judgmental. Make sure you're well-versed in the candidate and where they stand on the issues.

¢ Know when to zip it. "There are times where it's better not to go there at all," says Anna Post of the Emily Post Institute. If you're already there and realize it too late, "make sure you have an exit strategy," a stock joke or an easy way to transition to a less volatile topic.

¢ Think before forwarding. Your friend forwards a Sarah Palin gaffe email. You respond with a video making fun of Joe Biden. And so on. Engaging in email-forwarding battles can be an endless and futile endeavor.

¢ Be a detective. "Look for subtle or obvious signs or symbols of a person's political persuasion" says Nancy Mitchell, whose firm Washington, D.C., firm The Etiquette Advocate advises companies on social and workplace etiquette. "This information will help you to avoid pitfalls, even when discussing topics not related to politics."

¢ Learn your lines. Mitchell suggests a few diplomatic responses to comments meant to draw you into a political discussion when you don't wish to participate. Try, "I'm still studying the candidates and the issues. Thanks for sharing your thoughts." Or "It has been an interesting year, hasn't it!? I have never witnessed a more challenging/thought-provoking/energizing/polarizing campaign."


¢ Broadcast your angst. Sharing an election-related news story on Facebook might be OK, but remember who your "buddies" are. Telling 500 of your closest friends that a candidate is "a loser" doesn't make you look like a winner.

¢ Harass at the holidays. "Someone told me recently she was planning not go home for the holidays because her family had different political views," says Post. "It's really a shame to put politics before personal relationships. If it means you have to stay away from subject, then so be it."

¢ Wear it to work. Mitchell says political buttons, stickers or other campaign materials should be considered contraband on the job.


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