They say there are two topics you should never discuss on a date; your ex and politics. For a budding young politics graduate, who could literally argue to death the ontological existence of this stapler beside him, the romantics of beginning office life charts peculiar territory.
On the one hand, I am encouraged to debate, question and criticise every situate of existence, to entice elaboration from someone’s understanding so as to enhance my own. And when someone offers up a political opinion, on something even as dull as, say, the Backbench Business Committee submitting its accounting reports for the last quarter, I feel utterly compelled to chime in with my two cents.
On the other hand however, is the inescapable British cultural reinforcement that everyone is apathetic toward politics, showcased by plummeting voter turnout, and that people who are actually aspirational within politics must be scoundrels.
This apathy (something I had the joy of writing my dissertation on) may well stem from our innate sense to not want to cause even the slightest whiff of confrontation. I’ve seen diners interrupted by stray bottle caps who would prefer do nothing until they can vent their frustrations on TripAdvisor later. Of course, political opinions inhibit emotive language and strong attitudes, ultimately making conversation about as helpful as typhoid for water cooler talk.
These lessons are as poignant as ever within the PR industry. For people whose livelihoods are built upon fantastic people skills and manners, building relationships with clients and journalists, and making sure all messages are positive and clear, a political firecracker is the last thing anybody needs.
So as not to disrupt the delicate ecosystem of office life, one must learn to curb their political sass, their opinionated spin on issues, and the burning desire to discuss whether Hobbes’ state of nature is any harsher than Locke’s. Impartiality when writing or speaking must be patrolled and sustained to the limits of a neutron. After all, it is this manner which works best in communications; for the client, the business, the team, and in your work.
So professionalism is once again maintained. You may let out little bursts of politics in wholly agreeable matters such as trees being needed to necessitate breathing. But I’m yet to hear of a successful PR firm who answer the phones; “Hello, and praise be to the glorious leader”.