How to handle a difficult boss Her boss won't stop talking about his political views at work. When he finds out they have differing outlooks, he treats her differently. A career coach weighs in on what to do.

How do I get my boss to stop talking about politics at work?

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One blue and one red wooden figurine face each other under their own respective spiky speech bubbles, representing a combative verbal exchange.
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Difficult bosses, career changes, potential layoffs. From the logistical to the emotional, work can be full of challenging situations and dynamics.

And often, it can be hard to know who to turn to when dealing with career obstacles.

That's why Life Kit asked Brandon Johnson, a certified professional career coach from Embrace Change, to answer a Life Kit listener's question about navigating political differences at work. We're only using the listener's first name to protect their livelihood and career opportunities.

Politics at work

I have worked for my boss for over 30 years. During the 2016 election, he messaged me on Facebook about who I was supporting during the presidential election. After his rant, I stopped him by saying I am a lifelong Democrat and you are not going to change my mind.

He has treated me differently ever since. He listens to right-wing media and still believes the election was stolen. Quite often he will make some out-of-context comment about politics. It's very uncomfortable.

I am 60 years old and I can't retire until I'm 65. I don't want to quit my job either because of my age, I would have trouble getting hired elsewhere. Nancy

I'm sorry to hear that! A challenging supervisor can be one of the toughest things to navigate in a career.

I would ask you: What things can you control? Can you limit direct contact with this person? What triggers his rants?

Also, depending on your comfort level, you could request a meeting with him to discuss healthy workplace boundaries. Express that you're interested in co-creating a positive environment by keeping discussions about personal information like political beliefs out of the workplace. Consider appealing to the fact that you've known each other for so long, and you'd like the relationship to be positive and productive.

Alternatively, if the behavior creates a hostile environment and impacts your work, you may want to consider submitting an HR report. In that case, remember to review your company's procedures for doing so, and be able to provide specific information about what's causing the hostile environment.

If you can gear the relationship towards being more generative than negative, you can create a win-win situation. That's why I generally advocate for having a conversation about healthy boundaries when possible. When that's not doable, HR may be the next best option. Brandon Johnson

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