Bringing up politics at the office during election season can be a perilous move. Everyone has an opinion on presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and it’s easy for lines to be crossed when talking in a group, especially at your workplace. An expert from Baylor College of Medicine shared some tips in a recent news release for those who find themselves in a political conversation at work, but who want to remain calm and professional.

“We have to respect each other’s values and try to not make something happen in the workplace that should take place in a different space,” Dr. James Lomax, professor in the Menninger Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, said in the release. “It can be challenging to have a conversation about politics within the workplace because there are so many different levels of authority.”

A tip Lomax suggests is to remind yourself and others there is a time and place for these discussions outside of the workplace if things become heated. Lomax recommends not bringing up politics when possible.

“For example, my role is to encourage people to be good students, residents, faculty, and staff. I do not want to exploit a professional relationship by doing or saying something that a learner or colleague might feel upset by and not able to confront me about so I rarely and with some thoughtfulness disclose my political interests,” Lomax said.

Although satirical political shows, such as those hosted by John Oliver and Trevor Noah, are popular, Lomax believes humor involving politics is not best suited for the workplace. He warns those who use humor while talking about politics to be cautious.

“It’s better to use self-effacing humor than to make fun of someone who you’re angry at, like a colleague. When you make fun of someone, you’re vulnerable to getting on a slippery slope toward unprofessional behavior,” Lomax said.

Misuse of social media, though done outside of work, can also lead to a massive public backlash. Watch out for offensive or biased tweets that may appear to represent one’s employer. An individual can use social media, but Lomax warns us to remain professional.

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