It is a good policy not to discuss religion and politics with those who may not have similar leanings and the same point of view. In this current political climate this is especially true and not adhering to this admonition can negatively impact one’s business. The US has been particularly polarized recently and one is playing with fire by bringing up controversial topics not related to doing one’s job particularly in unfamiliar settings. In small or family companies this may be acceptable assuming you know the people in the group you are working and speaking with. Even then, people tend to change their minds and their views over time. Their belief systems that they may had a few of months ago may not be the same as they are today.
When it comes to a general audience, client, prospect or new hires this becomes particularly dangerous ground to tread on. In certain parts of the country it may feel safe to express generally widely accepted beliefs, but just a few outliers in the group may lead to unforeseen consequences.
An employee at one of our client companies in a major south central city was working into his conversation with customers and prospective employees his person views on various political issues of the day. Although many of the people he spoke with were of a like mind, a significant minority of the people he engaged in conversation felt that his comments were inappropriate and turned them off on him and the company. In addition, some of his calls were not even business related, but was using his connections simply to express his thoughts on political issues. The owner had been aware of this situation as well as his lower efficiency, but until she was encouraged to examine his poor performance she did not see a relationship. It was simply easier to retain the status quo situation. Eventually she explained that this type of communications had to stop. The employee decided to resign and we replaced him with someone who avoided these sensitive areas and our results improved.
The country has become much more polarized and it is better to stay away from controversial subjects that have nothing to do with business. In addition, in our highly litigious and politically correct society, these kind of subject areas can be taken out of context and can become the basis of a law suit and attendant legal fees or just plain bad publicity.