I have a big mouth and love sharing my opinions at any given notice.
If someone asks me who I will vote for in this coming up election, I will quickly answer. Ask me what I think about marriage equality and reproductive rights, and I will have no qualms in telling why I believe what I do.
However, I have a lot to lose if I express my political beliefs. As a professional golfer who is always looking for sponsors (hint, hint) I can no longer say whatever comes to mind or express my disgust with certain aspects of our political climate or social culture. I cannot tell you how many times I have sat at a dinner table with potential sponsors who go on political rants about one thing or the other. I bite my tongue, fighting the urge to put in my two cents. Why? Because I need their sponsorship, in all honesty. Call it dirty money, call it me not having a spine, but I have bills to pay. And, I certainly don’t want to lose out on a sponsorship because of a disagreement over political values.
I know I am not the only one who has had to keep their political views out of the limelight at their job. It’s hard, but necessary. Chances are you won’t change your boss’s mind over his or her political beliefs, so why jeopardize your job for the sake of sharing an opinion? And, why create tension in the office?
I wonder, though, if I am remaining true to myself throughout this endeavor of finding and keeping sponsors. My political values are a reflection of who I am. I hold certain beliefs because I have a conviction in those ideals. There are moments when I find myself “faking it” with sponsors. I may stroke their ego or nod in agreement with their political rant. Afterwards though, I wish I would have said something or played devil’s advocate. Unfortunately though, I am not in the position to do so.
I am a slave to circumstance. Until I make my own name for myself, I cannot openly discuss where I stand politically. Just recently, I went into my sponsor’s office and as we chatted away I noticed some books on his shelf that made me realize how starkly different our taste in political views are. I wanted to joke with him and say, “Really? This is who you’re reading about in your spare time?” Instead, I told him that I read a couple of those books, which was true. He asked how I liked them, and I responded that while I didn’t agree with all that was written, there were some valid points. No harm, no foul.
During this struggle of finding a balance between wanting to keep my relationships with sponsors and also still being true to myself, I have found that being neutral is the best way to express views. For instance, if the topic of who I am voting for in the next election comes up I say, “I like so and so for this and like so and so for that.” I give my opinions on each candidate, the good and the bad, never outwardly saying who I will vote for. Once again, no damage done.
While you want to have the freedom to say whatever you feel, it is also best to look at the cost of doing so. How does it really benefit you to tell your boss that his or her political views are dead wrong? If you’re a seeking a promotion, chances are you might want to keep a few things to yourself.
twoday magazine wants to know: Do you share political views at the workplace? Has this helped or harmed your career? Share with us on our Facebook page.
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