Guidance for Pre- & Post-Election Conversations & Related Support

Oct. 29, 2020

During election times, employees may want to talk with coworkers and supervisors about the current elections, civic responsibilities, and/or broader societal interests. As described in Rights, Rules, Responsibilities (RRR), Princeton University is committed to “free and open inquiry in all matters,” even when “the ideas of different members of the University community” may conflict. During such exchanges, Princeton employees are responsible for upholding a mutually respectful, inclusive, and collaborative work environment and climate that is aligned with both RRR and the University’s Statement on Diversity and Community.

The information below is provided to help employees before and after the elections.

Tips for Building Self-Awareness

The following tips can help employees navigate conversations with thoughtfulness, inclusion, respect, and self-awareness and recognize the boundaries of others within their workplaces.

  • Consider one’s own personal comfort to engage or not to engage in discussions with colleagues about the election and/or civic interests
  • Actively manage one’s own emotions and how to react to different viewpoints
  • Acknowledge that some individuals welcome such discussions and are more comfortable sharing their views while others do not welcome such conversations and may consider political views private; respect, without judgment, the decision of others to refrain from or engage in conversation
  • Consider one’s own University role and professional responsibilities; be aware of the potential impact of discussing the election given that role; if managing others, be particularly aware not to assert influence over or alienate the viewpoints of team members
  • Remain open to hearing the other viewpoints; prior to engaging in conversation, reflect on how to interact with colleagues who hold different perspectives
  • Refrain from making or taking action on assumptions about the values and motivations of others
  • Practice effective listening skills that allow all parties to feel heard
  • Be mindful of how to express personal viewpoints in a non-judgmental way and seek to engage versus alienate or “shut-down” other perspectives
  • Respect confidentiality; refrain from sharing conversations with others without having obtained permission to do so; an easy reminder of this in practice is to talk with others, not about them

Examples for Declining Discussions

The following examples can help employees use respectful language when declining to have conversations with others:

  •  “I value how important this topic is in our daily lives. While our views may or may not align, I would like to refrain from having these discussions at work.” 
  • “I find these conversations difficult to talk about at work and would rather not engage in this type of discussion.”

Resources for Discussion

Opportunities for Post-Election Conversation Sessions

HR will host post-election conversation sessions during the week of November 2. Employees should register through the Employee Learning Center. Confirmed dates are:

  • November 4: 3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
  • November 5: 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.
  • November 10: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.

Check the Learning Center for other dates that might be added.

Resources for Support

Princeton Policies

Additional Campus Resources & Events


This article was updated on November 4, 2020, to reflect changes to the post-election conversation session schedule.