Really nice coworker - who is also a Trump believer
November 16, 2016 7:03 PM   Subscribe

I work at a small company and sit in the vicinity of someone who is very nice, friendly, helpful. Right now, I can not stand his stupid smiling face. He was already a bit annoying but tolerable in small doses.

I knew for a while now that he was a supporter and it immediately made me wary of him. I'm used to having "fiscally conservative", reagan loving, white male bosses/co workers. I'm also pretty sure that a few other people at my job voted similarly. But they aren't so close to my space. I make a very real effort everyday to be positive and keep my shit together but this is a struggle.

Are there some tricks I can do when I see him? I need something that I can do during the day. Some kind of mental snapchat filter.
posted by puppup to Work & Money (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you're allowed to listen to music at work which others can hear, I suggest a steady rotation of hiphop, Lebanese/middle eastern pop, any musical style from Latin America you're into, gay icons, feminist power ballads, K and J pop, ANYTHING non-white and non-cis/het male.

If you work in the kind of office where people will complain "ugh anything but RAP MUSIC" or other explicitly racist noise that makes this difficult to do, proceed directly to Woody Guthrie and any other fun communist folk music you like.
posted by Sara C. at 7:26 PM on November 16, 2016 [21 favorites]

Not sure this will work, but I think it helps some groups with strong beliefs:

Think of yourself as an ambassador for the values and ideas you stand for. Don't focus on his impact on you, focus instead on your impact on him.
posted by amtho at 7:34 PM on November 16, 2016 [44 favorites]

By which I mean: your _positive_ impact on him. Demonstrate that "people like you" are good people.
posted by amtho at 7:44 PM on November 16, 2016 [3 favorites]

One that has been helpful for me is realizing that it has been okay for me to be friends, and to even like, people whom I think have wrong ideas, sometimes even ones that are potentially damaging on some level. My justification for this is twofold: 1) social change happens in the context of relationships more than any other thing, and I don't expect people to have all things worked out; and 2) I've been on the receiving end of friendships that have changes my mind about things that are important.

I'm not saying that you have to be his friend friend. But if you frame it within the context that you have the opportunity to do good by not demonizing the bad, and can possibly have a positive benefit, it really does put feet on types of action that can have a positive effect on the future. When you think about all of the positive social change that has happened in the last 10-20 years, it hasn't been primarily legislation, but people who have gotten to know other people in humanizing and no-othering ways that prompted broader social support.
posted by SpacemanStix at 7:50 PM on November 16, 2016 [16 favorites]

Find something about him that you do like, so you can associate something with him beyond "Trump supporter." What are his hobbies? What music, books, movies does he like? Do you know anything about his family?
posted by filthy light thief at 8:15 PM on November 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

The problem is that this supporter (and others like him) have brought to our Oval Office a man who maybe will get dictatorship, or something close to it, to America. You may not like his face now but in the coming months it can get worse. Most likely he knows that you are not a trump supporter (gossip is one thing that works efficiently in most offices). I would not waste my time to try and create a persona that makes him regret his political choice (believe me it won't happen cos you were not the reason he voted for T anyways) or trying to build bridges or knowing about him (family etc.) That is called appeasing and liberals have done that too much already. It is time for tough love. Be polite, be respectful of him as you would of any other person. Focus on making change yourself (donating, volunteering etc to the causes you care about) instead of this person and you will find that this or any other trump supporter will not irk you that much. I recently marched in my city in an anti-trump march and it was the most freeing moment for me-cos I let my anger out, I was visible, I had not rolled over, I was not indulging in self blame as a democrat and I took the first step (for me) for change. Focus your energies on making a difference (however small) and this person will not be that annoying to you anymore.
posted by metajim at 8:43 PM on November 16, 2016 [11 favorites]

It's a little bit unclear from your question as to exactly what is going on. The best answer depends on two things.

(1) What all of Trump's candidacy was your coworker happy about? If he was a fiscal or even values-based conservative who grudgingly voted for Trump despite the racism/misogyny/fear-mongering, that's one thing. But if he's HAPPY about all that, it's another thing entirely.

(2) What exactly is your coworker doing now? Is it just that he's in a good mood when you think everyone should be sad? Or is he actively rubbing people's faces in it? Are there decent discussions going on, or are there arguments that end up going nowhere?

I generally agree with amtho's idea to think of yourself as an ambassador for what you believe in. But if he's not showing you similar respect, then you may have to take a different tack.
posted by dondiego87 at 12:49 AM on November 17, 2016

Also, please don't play music out loud in an office. If you want to wear headphones to listen to music that makes you feel good and/or empowered, I'm all for that. But even if it's not prohibited, I can't think of a reason why polluting the acoustic atmosphere of the office would ever be okay, ESPECIALLY if it's just as a passive-aggressive middle finger.
posted by dondiego87 at 12:50 AM on November 17, 2016 [13 favorites]

At my old job, as soon as politics came up I used to say, "Sorry, but I never talk about politics at work. It's just my general policy, to avoid any conflicts. We have to work together every day, so we gotta get along and try to avoid any arguments on the job!" (Of course as soon as I figured out another co-worker was a nice lefty then we could start gabbing about political shit until the cows came home.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:40 AM on November 17, 2016 [5 favorites]

Best answer: This isn't a political suggestion:
I can't find where I read this, but send your attention to your stomach, a little below your navel. Instead of "you" being centered in your head, "you" are now centered in your center. Everytime you feel pulled by emotion, recenter your attention below your navel.
I use this when a certain relative is being offensive, it helps keep the rage in check.
posted by Baethan at 4:45 AM on November 17, 2016 [6 favorites]

Do not confuse "friendly" with "kind". And this is what headphones are for.
posted by Green Eyed Monster at 5:18 AM on November 17, 2016 [11 favorites]

Examine the idea of not keeping your shit together regarding this man. What would that look like? This election outcome is 1/59,580,000th his fault. Does he deserve more than 1/59,580,000th of your rage, simply because you can identify him?

I grew up in an ultra-liberal NYV bubble. I had literally never met a racist until I left home. I was confident in and comfortable with my view that racists were nasty, unkind, horrible and easily identifiable people. Then I moved next door to a friendly, funny, extremely kind and very helpful man who, it slowly became clear, was also a horrible racist. It was extremely confusing and challenging for me. It was also extremely useful in growing my politics the fuck up.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:51 AM on November 17, 2016 [4 favorites]

You need to realize that not everyone around you has the same opinions and beliefs as you do and act like a mature adult instead of being disturbed by a coworker's mere presence. As an outsider reading your post, it sounds like he hasn't done anything (I assume you would have mentioned it), and like you are the one more likely to cause any trouble because of your own beliefs.
posted by atinna at 11:55 PM on November 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: I'm fully aware that not everyone around me has the same opinions and beliefs. Generally I'm cool with that. Except for when those beliefs put a huge part of the population in danger. And he hasn't done anything except vote for someone who has very strongly dangerous ideas about people who don't look like him. People who look like me. I have been feeling completely sick to my stomach and this fucking guys presence is a reminder. How are my beliefs about that going to get me into trouble? But his beliefs are ok? Unbelievable.

And I understand this whole idea about not talking about politics at work. I really do. However this is not a good time for that. People who can need to speak up and speak out. This shit is fucked up and I'm supposed to be polite?
posted by puppup at 6:47 PM on November 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

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