Friday, November 7, 2008

Post-Election Etiquette from The Protocol Centre(TM): Five Tips for Moving Past Divisive Politics and Back Into Normalcy

RJ Note: With the major election behind us, let us focus on the future of our country. If there are any local runoffs in your area, be sure to get out and vote for the candidate of your choice.

PRNewswire/ -- It's finally done, and the United States of America has a new president-elect. With approximately 64% of the voters participating in what has been arguably called an historical race, managers may be left dealing with a divided workplace of "winners" and "losers."

With both sides of the political spectrum calling for unity and cooperation, Dale Webb, director and founding partner of The Protocol Centre(TM) in Coral Gables, Florida, offers a few tips on how to transition back into productive work relationships. Webb, who is an expert to professionals on matters of business etiquette and protocol, guiding them on everything from table settings to managing their Blackberrys, offers the following:

-- Set the ground rules: Webb advises managers to gauge their offices for emotional tension and set ground rules according to what was acceptable during the campaigns. "If political talk was allowed before the election, then political talk may likely continue," Webb said. "But the manager should strongly encourage respectful discussions. No gloating, no bragging, no insults. Emphasize that the race is over, and that it's time to focus on work."

-- Give the other candidate's supporters some space: If your candidate emerged victorious, acknowledge that the other candidate's supporters may be going through a depressed spell. "Losing leads to feelings of emptiness, and your co-workers or employees may not want to talk about the election at all. Give them time to re-group," Webb said.

-- Have a plan for social settings: Holiday gatherings can lead to political conversations. If things get heated, have a plan to defuse the drama, Webb said. "Co-workers can try to head off talk of election winners and losers with neutral topics about work, family or holiday plans," Webb said. This holds true for tense personal gatherings, as well.

-- If your candidate won, be gracious: The onus is on both sides to be professional, but someone probably has to start the conversation. The winning side should be magnanimous. Webb suggests comments such as, "I know you were pulling for your candidate as hard as I was for mine ... " to re-build relationships.

-- Know when to exit: Sometimes, even the best efforts at protocol fail. When the other party is uncomfortably antagonistic in his or her stance, due to anxiety or anger, leave the conversation. "This is a workplace, which is not conducive to constant arguing," Webb said. "You're not a shrink, and some people cannot be convinced, by your words alone, that the country will be OK under new leadership."

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