I couldn’t not talk about politics at work if I tried.

But that’s not the reason I’m going to urge you to talk about politics at the office. I’m going to urge you to do it because I’m a huge believer that you should always bring your whole self to work. You should bring your interests and your passions. You should bring your authenticity. Being real is the only way to be. Otherwise work would be boring, filled with phony stiffs and fake conversations. Can you imagine that – 40 or 50 hours a week?  Horrible. Like holding your breath until you get home.

So, bring your political views to work. Just remember four small rules of thumb when you do.

1) Everyone says they support “diversity,” and they wish their workplaces had more of it. That viewpoint, which I’ll assume you hold, includes political diversity. So when someone has a different stance than you do on a particular politician or policy, put your money where your mouth is.  Embrace their differences, or accept that you’re a hypocrite.

2) It’s OK to share your political views, as long as it’s in the context of a conversation. Don’t just spout your views like a chimney blowing smoke. Ask co-workers what they believe and why.  Engage in debate, understanding that debates have two (or more) sides.

3) Perhaps because they feel so personal, politics have a way of making people emotional. We assert our views too vehemently or with too much edge; we judge and exhort. We stop asking questions and start making pronouncements. All such behaviors border on obnoxiousness. Don’t cross that line. Disagree – sure. But if the temperature begins to really heat up, back off and turn on the collegial AC.

4) Work still comes first. I’ll be the first to admit that political banter can take over an office, especially when there’s more than one political junkie around. That’s not OK, and if it starts to happen, it’s on the political junkies to dial it back. You’re at work to get results for your customers and your organization. That’s everyone’s bottom line.

The political season is upon us, and it’s only going to get more heated as November approaches. But politics are always around us, even when it’s not an election cycle. And look, we’re human beings, not automatons. Talk about what’s happening in the world, and be yourself while you’re at it. Politics is an exciting and critical part of life, and that doesn’t stop at the office door.– Jack Welch