Personal relationships and work relationships are the “stuff” that fills our day. They are the sources of our greatest joys and of our greatest sorrow. They are the times with people who can bring our world crashing down with just one look and the times where a hug or a kiss can be better than any other feeling known to man. I started thinking about this after listening to last Thursday’s HR Happy Hour radio show. The episode was about politics and religion in the workplace. As I listened, it struck me that we try so hard to compartmentalize our lives based on what is appropriate to say and when that we sometimes lose sight of who we are. We go to work each day for 8, 10, 14 hours a day yet have to comply with societal and cultural norms that shove much of who we are in a little box until we leave work.
You know one reason HR exists? I think it’s because people just can’t keep all these parts of themselves tucked away all day, every day. Sometimes their views on religion or politics come out at work. Sometimes, they tease or joke like they would with a friend, but they do it at work. Then….POW! They’ve offended a co-worker. Now it’s off to HR to tell them to keep their personality in check, keep it under control, don’t say or do “inappropriate” things at work, etc.
I am a realist and I know that as employees, we should not do or say things to violate other employees’ rights. We should also try not to offend each other because the point of us being at work is to work, not create drama. But, there needs to be a balance of being able to be who you really are too. I’ve worked at organizations where you can’t be yourself. It’s awful. So, I left. Now I work at an organization that actually has a heart. It may be partly because we’re in the business of caring for sick children, but I don’t think that’s the only reason. We care about each other as human beings. I feel it every day when I walk through the door at work. It’s amazing.
I’m not going to ever be the person who preaches to you here or to people at work. But I will be the person who says a prayer if you’re sick, hurt, or going through something terrible or difficult. I may not tell you I say them, but I do. I’m strong in my own religious beliefs because I’ve had many miracles in my life (in 2003 and 2008), but I love learning about other religions and from people who don’t believe. I won’t be that person at work who argues my political views, but if you want to talk politics with me, I’m open to it. Why? Because talking with you about these things helps me grow as a person.
So, religion and politics at work? It’s a hard question. Why don’t you just listen to guest host Jason Seiden over at the HR Happy Hour to find out what others had to say about it. And, be sure to weigh in here in the comments.