2017 02 22 hrexaminer politics work 3 individual survival guide by heather bussing photo img cc0 woman commuter train subway work daily life via pexels photo crop 544x281px.jpg

“At work, you have some control over what you are doing and get to do things you (hopefully) are good at and enjoy. Feeling competent and getting things done really helps when politics has people untethered and uncomfortable.” – Heather Bussing

The key for people dealing with politics and work is to manage stress and distractions. Work can be a calming place where you can reduce political stress. At work, you have some control over what you are doing and get to do things you (hopefully) are good at and enjoy. Feeling competent and getting things done really helps when politics has people untethered and uncomfortable.

This means don’t get into political debates, don’t judge people by their politics, and limit outside distractions while you are trying to get work done. This is difficult. I spent a couple days on twitter imagining the end of the world until I remembered that things did not go well for Chicken Little. A walk really helped.

Taking care of yourself is essential. Get sleep, eat healthy food, exercise, meditate. These are always the first things to go when I’m feeling anxious and stressed out. Caring for my body and mind is always a good place to start.

Here are my suggestions for how to deal with the current political climate and stay (somewhat) sane.

  1. Take care of yourself. Get offline. Go outside. Read a book. And definitely eat chocolate.
  2. Have mixed feelings. You can be outraged and happy, sad and silly, anxious and funny. Most of the time I have mixed feelings. I just try to be more aware of which ones get up front.
  3. Connect with other people and animals. Tell people you love them. Be extra kind. Give lots of hugs. Ask for one now.
  4. HALT. Do not make any decision or post to social media when you are hungry, angry, lonely, tired, after 10 pm or two drinks (whichever comes first).
  5. Refrain. If you must fix or do something right away, especially something over which you have little control, stop. It’s the anxiety and distress wanting a quick resolution. Breathe, give it a little while. You will feel better if you let yourself.
  6. Do not try to convince anyone of anything online or at work. Just don’t. Even if you know the facts and believe you are right. Instead, call your congressperson. Really, it is better to have friends and be happy than be right.
  7. Think critically. Check out information, find actual facts rather than opinion, look at multiple sources, find credible ones. Do not share articles unless you have actually read them and know what they say; headlines are often misleading.
  8. Move through outrage as quickly as you can. To stay in outrage gives it and “them” power over you. That level of adrenaline is also exhausting. Instead, use the energy for something that will help you or others. If you are not sure what that is, start with a walk.
  9. Decide what you can do and do it. Write and call your elected officials and let them know your views. Volunteer and get involved in activities you support. My friend Bob Corlett says: I do what I can do cheerfully, then I stop. You do not have to do everything. It is not all on you. What you can do cheerfully is enough.
  10. Your time and attention are limited, nonrenewable resources. Use them with care.


Further Reading:

2016 Post-Election Sanity Guide. Scott Berkun has put together a great discussion of coping with the election and politics with useful suggestions and resources. Useful no matter what your political leanings.

How to Get Through a Hard Day  I have some experience. This might help.

Us v. Them – “The moment you frame the problem as us v. them, you eliminate the solutions.”

Read the entire series:


  1. Politics & Work 1: Organization Survival Guide

  3. Politics & Work 2: HR Survival Guide

  5. Politics & Work 3: Individual Survival Guide


Read previous post:
HRExaminer Radio Executive Conversations Badge Podcast Logo
HRExaminer Radio – Executive Conversations: Episode #226: Stephan Millard

Stephan Millard is a senior product marketing professional with over twelve years experience in working with both leading HR &...