A Liberal Among Conservatives

Dear Jean,

I work in a small management consulting firm where there are six consultants.  Rarely are we ever in town at the same time, but when we are, we seem to gather in the break room early in the morning.  The topic is always politics.  My partners are moderate to conservative and I’m more liberal.  They seem to really have fun with this and I don’t.  Sometimes their opinions make me so angry I can’t work for the rest of the day.  What do I do?

Reply:

You might remind your five conservative colleagues that you are an “endangered species” and that they would do well to allow at least one weed to flourish and blossom in their formal little garden.

But what concerns me most is that a political discussion with colleagues upsets you to the point that you can’t work for the rest of the day. This level of anger borders on rage and not only is it seeping out at work it’s spilling over in other areas of your life.

Why don’t you get to the break room early and start the conversation about something business related?  If that doesn’t work and you’re not able to come to grips with your anger, leave.  If you chose to stay in the room – – respond — don’t react.

Rage is not an appropriate response to spirited conversation. Lighten up.  Anger clogs the pipes.

Coaching Tip:  In business and in life, it’s impossible to avoid teasing and aggressive behavior.  Whenever you are in a situation where there is aggravated conversation taking place, relax the muscles between your eyes and purposefully take a few deep breaths.  Your “open” face will make you look calmer and you will in fact, be calmer.

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