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Workplace fighting has gotten worse since Nov. 9




Tim Tinakorn, director of product, works at his desk at their offices in Hollywood, Calif., Tuesday, October 16, 2012.
Tim Tinakorn, director of product, works at his desk at their offices in Hollywood, Calif., Tuesday, October 16, 2012.
Anibal Ortiz / KPCC

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Yes, it's because of the election.

"The level of aggression and antagonism between folks seems to be much, much greater than it has been in the past," says human resources consultant Mike Letizia.

He's gotten an increasing number of calls from employers asking for his help when employees are fighting about politics.

"There seems to be very little room for disagreeing any more," Letizia said. "You are either right or wrong."

Social media has seemed to add fuel to that fire, too.

One recent client asked him to help with two employees. They disagreed online about something the night before and brought the fight to the office the next morning when they got to their cubicles.

"It was loud enough that other employees could hear," he said, and [the other employees] got drawn in, too. "Honestly, it became a free-for-all in less than 40 minutes."

Here's Letizia's advice:

For employees

"The focus at work should always be work."

Your personal life and concerns for the country are important, but it's also important to come together with your colleagues.

"Get away from what is different and divisive."

For employers

Get them away from other co-workers.

"Pull them aside. Get them out of the office environment. Get them away from other employees where they could be disturbing other employees' work. Get them to calm down."

You can then be a mediator and show them that what they're doing is disruptive.

It's also a good idea to suggest that they continue their debate after work or during lunch, but not in the office.

"And find a way to get them to shut off their cell phones so that their alerts and social media things are not going off 24 hours a day, seven days a week."

What if the fight already happened?

Start with empathy and compassion. Those are important first steps to being a professional and re-approaching your co-worker.

"Go back to the person and tell them, 'I may not agree with what you think, but I respect you for being so passionate about what you believe.'"