Magazine article Work & Family Life

Why Not Tell Everyone at Work What You Really Think

Magazine article Work & Family Life

Why Not Tell Everyone at Work What You Really Think

Article excerpt

Dear Anita, I recently had my "Save the Wombats" T-shirt on at work, and one of the guys 1 work with said, "The only good wombat is the one I have for breakfast with my coffee. " How can I continue to work with this immature moron?

- Sunny

Dear Sunny,

The workplace is tough enough without dragging some poor Australian marsupial into the equation. When you bring your personal belief into a professional setting, you jeopardize the delicate baUnce of the working world's ecosystem. I advise you to save the wombats on your own time.

- Anita

No one can dispute the fact that Americans are an opinionated bunch. But the beliefs and opinions that we discuss with our friends and family can get out of control in the workplace. That's because in our private lives we tend to socialize with people who share our views, but on the job it's a whole different kettle offish.

While Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits workplace discrimination based on religion, national origin, race, color or sex, there is still no law against waving your personal beliefs at work like the checkered flag at a NASCAR race.

Your beliefs are important

In other words, bosses aren't going to object to you observing your religious holidays or dress, and may not even flutter an eyelash if you're a practicing Wicca member. What bothers them is when employees engage others in discussions of hot-button issues that can turn the workplace into a major feuding ground. What people care about is important - but it's not your job to stuff your beliefs down other people's throats.

Your boss does not care if you don't eat meat but doesn't want you preaching your views to the fellow across the hall who is enjoying a chili dog. He doesn't care who you plan to vote for in 2008 but would prefer that you not wear that candidate's T-shirt to work.

"You can really get disruptive when you're talking about your personal beliefs at work. Tempers will get raised, and people will be distracted from their work. Then the manager is going to have to clean up the mess. Plus, you may veer into an unlawful area if someone considers they're being harassed on a religious issue, for example," says Jeffrey Tanenbaum, a labor and employment lawyer.

Why this matters

Why are bosses more concerned than ever about personal issues? Consider the following:

* On November 1 , 2004, the websites of JohnKerry.com and GeorgeWBush.com each drew more than 300,000 U.S. visitors. More than half of the users of those sites were in the workplace. …

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