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February 3, 2016

Who Has the Right to Argue Politics at the Office?

In this presidential election year, the old adage about the two things you should never discuss in polite conversation — religion and politics — has never been more true, especially considering how they’ve overlapped lately in the United States political discourse. In the workplace this is especially an issue. When people talk about about hot-button issues, passions tend to run high, and productivity-busting arguments occur.

The Houston Chronicle recently reported on some of the tricky office free-speech issues surrounding politics. “Employees have no right to free speech,” attorney David Barron told the Chronicle. That’s because freedom of speech applies to public spaces, not private property. He says it’s completely legal for employers to limit what employees are allowed to say in the office. In fact, he says “When it comes to things like race, gender, ethnicity, and religion, those are issues where an employer has a legal duty to take action if an employee complains.” All four of those topics are under discussion in Election 2016. The only free speech employees have is the right to discuss workplace issues under the National Labor Relations Act (NRLA).

However, though employees may not be able to express their political views, employers can push their point of view freely.

If a CEO invites a political candidate for a factory-floor campaign event, employees can be required to attend and even applaud for TV cameras. A boss can also encourage the display of a favored candidate’s posters or other campaign materials, and prohibit display of an opponent’s. The 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United ruling even allows employers to spend company funds to support candidates, regardless of employees’ views.

While this kind of thing undoubtedly bothers some employees, there’s no legal recourse because, Barron says, “Being offended by someone else’s political views is not illegal harassment the way it is for gender, race or ethnicity.” There’s some comfort in knowing, at least, that employees can’t legally be fired for how they vote.

Given how super-charged politics is at the moment, it’s probably best to keep them out of the office altogether. There’s no research, after all, suggesting that arguments and the bad feelings they leave behind are good for generating profits.

Robby Berman

Robby Berman is a reporter, father, and musician who creates and discovers good stuff for the Internet world.

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Exceptionally Likable People Share 13 Good Habits

Sometimes we get the feeling that being likable is something people are born with. You either have it or you don’t. It turns out, though, that you can cultivate your likability.

According to Dr. Travis Bradberry of Talent Smart, when UCLA asked respondents to rate over 500 adjectives for how they relate to likability, they found that the key traits were sincerity, transparency, and the ability to understand another person.

TalentSmart did their own study of over a million people and found that people with “emotional intelligence,” or “EQ,” are not only very likable, they’re also much more likely to succeed. It also turned out they had 13 attractive habits in common.

1. They Ask Questions: Lots of questions show that you care about what someone else thinks.

2. They Put Away Their Phones: Do you enjoy it when someone glances at their phone while you’re talking?

3. They’re Genuine: Nobody likes a fake. It’s so much better to be calm, real, and comfortable in your own skin.

4. They Don’t Pass Judgment: An open mind communicates that you respect the other person enough to really value what they’re saying.

5. They Don’t Seek Attention: Being larger than life doesn’t help others relate to you. You may appear desperate.

6. They’re Consistent: An inconsistent personality makes people feel you can’t be counted on.

7. They Use Positive Body Language: People respond when your vocal tone communicates enthusiasm, your unfolded arms show openness, and you lean in slightly to show interest.

8. They Leave a Strong First Impression: People will often make up their mind within just seven seconds. Think body language. Think #10 below.

9. They Greet People By Name: People innately feel closer to someone who uses their name throughout a conversation.

10. They Smile: Since people tend to mirror each other’s behavior, why not help a person have a good time talking to you?

11. They Know When to Open Up: Oversharing, especially about negative things, is a turnoff. Listen carefully to see if there really is reason to say more.

12. They Know Who To Touch (and They Touch Them): Touching communicates caring and releases oxytocin, a neurotransmitter that engenders trust and affection. Of course, you’ve got to be aware of personal boundaries.

13. They Balance Passion and Fun: People enjoy being with others who love what they do and are passionate and excited about it.

Naomi Thalenberg

Naomi is a reporter for TINYpulse, living and breathing everything employee engagement. She does this by always keeping her workstation fully stocked with dark chocolates.

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