“Truth does not depend upon you to believe it.” ― C.D. Hulen.

In a world of heightened social and cultural awareness, workplace diversity, and political unrest, being “politically correct” has taken on a whole new meaning. Now more than ever, employees and managers alike are navigating how to effectively discuss controversial topics while not breaching company policies and offending each other.

Here are some tips on keeping cool and generating a productive discussion on controversial topics in the workplace.


1- Be open and honest, but think before you speak

Remember when as a child, you were told, “If you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all? The same rules apply here. Unless you’re in a situation where a legitimate wrong or injustice is taking place, you should probably keep it to yourself if you want to say something but ask yourself whether it’s appropriate.


2- Learn to listen respectfully

If you do more listening than talking, you’ll have fewer opportunities to say something you’ll regret or get yourself in trouble. Some conversations require you to place yourself in another person’s shoes. Try to leave assumptions at the door. Be empathetic and consider the past and present circumstances of others.


3- Seek to understand

No matter how open-minded we try to be, we all view the world through the lens of our own experiences. The key is to look beyond what we think, what we know, and what we have experienced and try to understand things from another’s point of view. Even the effort to empathize makes us more fully human.


4- Always be professional

Keep it professional if you find yourself privy to workplace conversations about controversial topics. The odds are low that you will change anyone’s religious or political persuasion in a 10-minute conversation, so there’s no sense in getting angry or frustrated. Even if you find cause to judge a coworker’s values, you don’t need to shout about it in the office. It’s also important to note that these conversations shouldn’t be allowed to detract from your work.


5- Address issues constructively 

In the heat of the moment, an aggressive confrontation is never the right way to handle a disagreement with a coworker. But if a colleague says something that makes you upset or uncomfortable in the dialogue –whether you’re involved in the conversation or simply overhearing it– you can approach them directly and constructively to discuss how you feel.

Again, you’re not likely to change their perspective, but by letting them know how you feel, they can choose to avoid discussing those views at work in the future. If your coworker continues to express opinions that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe even after you’ve asked them to stop, talk with your human resources department.

6- Respond don’t react

You may disagree with the opinions of others, but that doesn’t give you a pass to lose your cool. Rather than reacting in frustration or anger, simply walk away from the conversation. Remember, this is your job, and flying off the handle could jeopardize your career. 


7- Redirect the heat

If someone is spewing offensive comments or hate speech, redirect the conversation. Be low-key but firm about changing the topic. Remind people that everyone needs to treat others with respect, even in disagreement.



📌Censure: express severe disapproval of (someone or something), especially in a formal statement.

📌Condemn: express complete disapproval of, typically in public.

📌Review: a formal assessment or examination of something with the possibility or intention of instituting change if necessary.

📌Constructive criticism: a critique that offers actionable, effective feedback so employees can implement improvement strategies.

📌Diplomatically: in a way that does not offend.


📌Act on: to take action.

“If you are a professional, you should act on it.” 

📌Hear out: to allow someone to finish talking.

“I know you don’t agree, but hear me out.”



📌End on a high note: to end something successfully or positively.

📌My lips are sealed: you won’t say a word.

Related Articles:

📌 Emotional Intelligence at work https://www.englishpriority.com/emotional-intelligence-at-work/

📌 American Workplace Culture https://www.englishpriority.com/american-workplace-culture-part-1/

 📌Mastering Emotional Balance https://www.englishpriority.com/mastering-emotional-balance/


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