This year politics seemed to become a much “bigger deal.” Here in America, we had a highly contested and aggressive election. The United Kingdom had Brexit, India is having issues with demonetization, and countries around the globe are facing extensive hot button issues.
What’s changed are the amount of businesses and professionals that I’ve seen take to social media to get political. They “just can’t keep quiet about [insert topic here].”
An old client of mine posted saying she “wanted to share the views of a business owner, since a lot of people don’t get to hear those views.”
I get it. Kind of.
The issue with most of these “views” is that there is typically a big split. Take the election in America for example: 51% voted for one side, the other 49% voted for the other side.
When you go public with your political views, you risk alienating at least half of your customer base.
For what reason?
“I just can’t keep quiet…”
I can understand. You’re so worked up on the issue that you have to write your feelings on Facebook. We feel good when we see the likes pouring in and the comments letting us know how “right” we are. We usually ignore or write-off the few bad seeds that try and argue with us (or worse, we then engage them).
But what does that have to do with your business, or your professional career?
Nothing. Seriously. Unless you stand to directly benefit from the results of an election (like you’re going to land a new customer) there’s no legitimate business reason to share your opinion.
We live in a divisive era. Our views on partisan politics and social issues tend to be quite polarized. When we as business owners and bosses share our political views (especially on platforms we are followed on due to business issues) we not only run the risk of alienating our clients and potential clients—we can also alienate our staff.
An executive expressing his political belief exerts pressure on employees and associates to conform to those beliefs, or run into issues with harassment and other uncomfortable subjects.
Finally, if the words “if my views bother them, I don’t want to work with them anyway,” come to mind consider this:
Your clients and staff may just want business to be about business and keep the political drama out of the equation. This is a pretty sensible, professional, and realistic objective. They don’t want to have to make the decision of whether or not to argue with you, work late, or face other consequences over disagreeing.
Worse, you don’t want to find out that the majority of your customers and associates play on the other side of the fence. Said another way, you don’t want to learn that the 49% you thought were “the other guys” are actually your associates and colleagues.