Of course, you know the old adage: Don’t talk about religion and politics. But that’s difficult to avoid as we move into the final weeks of this turbulent election season. It’s natural to discuss the most recent presidential debate with co-workers with the opening line: “Can you believe what just happened?”
With partisan sentiments running high, however, such conversations can lead into stormy waters – if not outright hostility – and that can be counterproductive in the workplace. Modeling the third and final debate, for example, would itself be disrupting; you don’t want to talk over others, shout or slip in insults (“Such a nasty woman” and “You’re the puppet” comes to mind.) There are ways, however, to have political conversations without devolving into a shouting match.
We need to be careful that we – unlike perhaps Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — don’t let emotions get in the way of considered conversation – even if there is a lot of emotion going into the presidential race. For starters, focus on the issues. Instead of immediately jumping in and saying, “How could anyone vote for him/her?” try asking why the candidate deserves support. What do you think of so-and-so’s policy on X? How could that candidate be helpful for our business or our daily lives? Ask, “What do you think of Trump’s or Clinton’s economic plans, their positions on small business taxes or making college affordable.” The last debate actually created some useful fodder for this kind of give-and-take.
In the latest MIT Sloan Expert Series podcast, Neal Hartman, Senior Lecturer in Managerial Communication at the MIT Sloan School of Management, discusses the current political discourse and the impact of related discussions in the workplace.
What’s in a word? More precisely, what’s in three words: “radical Islamic terrorist.”
These words seem to be imbued with a strange power. By not uttering them, according to various Republicans, President Obama is losing the war on terrorism. Obama, on his part, has declined to use the three words together, insisting that the United States can’t be perceived as at war with the religion of Islam.
And there’s little the media loves more than a war of words – even if this squabble over semantics has, in fact, very little to do with parsing out the reasons for the horrific attack on an Orlando gay club, which left 49 people dead. The shooter, Omar Mateen, did pledge himself to ISIS, but other aspects of his life point to a troubled mind and history of violence.
And it’s a wrap. The two major conventions are over and we now begin the long slog toward Election Day in November. As someone who studies both communication and leadership styles here at MIT, I think it is worth pausing and sifting through the sometimes overly loud and outsized rhetoric of the past two weeks to create a kind of scorecard.
The presidency is a job after all, an amazing and powerful one, but a job all the same. So, it seems like a good idea to dispassionately assess the leadership and communication skills of the two candidates—not unlike what we would do if this were a job opening in a major corporation.
Donald Trump has shown his ability to manipulate the media and his facility with social media. He keeps his name in the headlines day in and day out, most recently inviting Russia’s Vladimir Putin to hack Hilary Clinton’s e-mails. He also seems to have the facility to vacillate on positions without getting into a lot of trouble for doing that. While many would accuse Trump of flip-flopping, one could suggest that he has developed this as an art or a skill. He’s done a good job of positioning himself as an outsider at a time when people have a great deal of anger towards Washington.
Many people find asking to be paid more money awkward. How will your request be perceived? Will you look greedy or demanding? Are you sure you’re really worth what you’re asking for? The key to answering these questions and reaching a successful outcome is preparation. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to prepare for a salary negotiation. It just takes a few simple steps.
1. Think about timing.
The first step in preparing for a salary discussion is to consider timing. In general, it’s better to discuss salary after you receive a job offer rather than once you start a position. Companies generally expect there will be some negotiations before a person formally accepts a position, and assuming you have done your market research, you should be comfortable knowing the salary range and typical benefits for your position and in your location.
However, many people decide to have this conversation when they have been in a job for a time and desire a raise. If this is the case, look at whether you’ve had changes in job responsibilities. Have you taken on new roles or tasks? Or have you recently completed a successful project? If so, this would be an appropriate time to ask for an increase.
Another rule of thumb is that it’s better to ask for a raise when you’re happy in your job, versus feeling dissatisfied. You want to bring a positive attitude to the negotiating table, because that suggests you are committed to the company and are in for the long haul. After all, who wants to reward a disgruntled employee?
It’s also helpful to look at how the company is doing. If it just announced layoffs, don’t ask for a raise. On the other hand, it reported a 15% increase in profits over the last quarter, that is probably a better time.