In Zambia, it is very common to listen in and maybe participate in conversations; on the bus to and from work, while waiting in a long queue or while in the office working with the radio on. The radio is a popular workplace app that many people use to follow conversations. In an election year and the months preceding political conversations are inevitable and near impossible to stop. Basically, people enjoy sharing their opinion and like to compare notes on the candidates.
Whatever your national habits here are some things to keep in mind and avoid ruining relationships.
- As an owner or boss at the office try not to be too partisan and then show it in the way you treat your employees. They have come in to do a certain task so let them get on with it without feeling targeted or discriminated against.
- Be very careful about passing judgment and banding about terms such as, tribalism, racist, cadre, or some such thing. Controversy is normal in politics but don’t let it bring division and animosity in the work place.
- If you like political paraphernalia and dress try not to overdo it. It could send the wrong message to your clients and customers (especially if they are of a different opinion). Try to keep your place neutral to moderate when it comes to displays of material. Unless you are in the printing and signage business, of course.
- Keep your cool and your emotions in check. It is an important matter to you but, so is it to your colleagues and clients. You do not have to get angry and shout to or at another person. You have come in mainly for work and not for campaigning.
- Respect another’s opinion even if it is different from yours and don’t let that spoil your relationships, business or other.
- Simply stay out of the ring. It’s a good idea to not vocalize your political opinions and affiliations at work and mentally mark them confidential and for your ‘eyes’ only.
When and if you do participate in political talk at work, remember to keep it just that, talk. Preserve your relationships and when the time comes, wisely use your voice and coveted vote at the booth.