We have been here before.
A country becomes divided over a controversial verdict with the Rodney King Trial, or the O.J. Simpson trial.
There is nothing like race and presumed murder that divides a country.
And when we return to our desks the day after the verdict, tempers can flare and teams can be divided.
This article is not about choosing sides, or analyzing the merits of the Trayvon Martin case or the verdict.
Of course prayers go out to Trayvon’s parents who lost their 17 year old son way too soon. However, this article IS about office decorum in the face of media sensationalism.
Here are a few strategies to keep the peace when you go to work.
1: Don’t assume everyone has the same views as you. I was once told God and politics are tough workplace topics. Controversial court cases should go on that list as well. The workplace is for work, to focus on objectives and do such productively. Bringing up divisive topics and insisting people agree only yields division.
2: Don’t view everyone else as racist, bigoted unsympathetic because they don’t want to discuss the matter. Such verdicts can be polarizing, and leave viewers projecting their angst on people and clients on the job. Such projections are emotional, and unfair to those around you.
3: Don’t engage if asked about the case. Of course there are always first amendment rights to speak out and speak up if one chooses. However, chances are that engaging in a hot conversation about this verdict can be divisive as well. Will it really make for a healthier workplace to have an argument about a court case decided in another state?
Again, this advice is not about right and wrong, justice for all, or just an angry response regardless of your opinion. This piece does reflect on the objectives when one returns to work, to remain focused, productive and collaborative. If engaging in this, or any hot topic defeats those healthy workplace goals, think twice before engaging in verbal jousting to vent steam on your coworkers.
Leah Hollis, Ed.D. is a contributing blogger for JenningsWire, a blogging community created by Annie Jennings.