Welcome to Nov. 3, 2004.

You’re physically tired. You’re mentally drained. And you’re probably not thinking about how impolite it would be to do a victory dance (if your candidate won) or to trip the person doing the victory dance (if your candidate lost) as you return to the everyday world.

This is a problem.

Experts say that the way we behave in the days after a heated election can have a lasting impact on our workplace morale, our personal relationships and our neighborhood relations. And with the huge number of passionate people who headed to the polls Tuesday, there are likely to be some misguided manners out there Wednesday in full force.

“This is going to be a particularly sensitive post-election,” said Terry L. Paulson, author of “The Dinner: The Political Conversation Your Mother Told You Never to Have.” “Whenever it’s a close game the feelings are a lot higher, and as soon as it’s over, it’s very easy for people to gloat instead of realizing this is an argument among friends.”

In the interest in maintaining harmony for all during this post-election period, we’ve compiled a list of after-election etiquette tips from people who make their livings by being well-mannered.

Please, oh, please, consider them in your dealings. We would be most delighted and grateful if you’d find a way to incorporate the tips into your day’s work:

Resist the urge to na-na-na-na-boo-boo: So you knocked on hundreds of doors, made dozens of phone calls and licked envelopes until your tongue had more paper cuts than taste buds. You still don’t have the right to sling out political insults today.

“Manners are the lubricating oil of any good political conversation,” said Paulson, whose book is based on the conversation between a Republican and a Democrat over dinner.

If your candidate won, Paulson advises acknowledging or even offering compliments to people whose candidate lost.

Sample sentiment: “It was a hard-fought fight, and while, yes, I’m excited about the outcome, I also want you to know that I appreciate your efforts.”

The same respectful approach can be used if your candidate lost, Paulson adds. Sample sentence: “Congratulations. It was a hard-fought fight and while I can appreciate that your candidate won, I’m not going to give up.”

Don’t hand out bubble gum cigars at the office: This is America, land of the trendy, opportunistic capitalists, who have made gloat-for-your-candidate merchandise available for months. For a mere $16.99, for example, you can alienate half your acquaintances with a “Bush Wins” T-shirt from cafepress.com. The words are accompanied by a smiley face sticking out its tongue.

The Web site offers similarly smug merchandise for Kerry supporters, including a $4.99 poster print that said “Kerry Beats Bush, Told Ya So!”

Meanwhile, Concord Confections, makers of the famous Dubble Bubble gum, are selling boxes of either George W. Bush or John Kerry bubble gum cigars.

All these items may seem like novel ways to begin discussions, but truly, they are not. Resist the urge to wear gloating merchandise to any place where people may disagree with you.

“Hopefully that’s not what people are using them for,” said Erin LaBarge, spokesman for Dubble Bubble’s El Bubble cigars. “It’s just supposed to be fun. It’s bubble gum.”

Leave campaign signs up for a maximum of three days: Wisconsin alone hung tens of thousands of signs backing presidential candidates this election. Those signs were a great way to exhibit our freedom of speech and right to vote in the days leading up to the election. Now that the election is over, however, it’s time to take them down.

Paulson insists that all political yard signs be taken down no later than three days after the election. Any longer gives the impression that you’re trying to rub it in, he said.

If a neighbor leaves a sign up for longer than three days, Paulson adds, you are at a bit of a disadvantage. There’s no appropriate way to ask someone to decorate their own property differently. You may just have to settle for the satisfaction in knowing that they’re alienating themselves from the neighborhood.

“Realize that they pay a cost for that in the ill will they will get,” he said.

At work, ideally, such signs would have already been banned by management, said Amy Palec, owner of Mind Your Manners, a Cedarburg, Wis.-based company that offers professional training on business etiquette.

But if they haven’t been banned, Palec recommends asking a supervisor to request their removal, so the requests will appear unbiased and consistent.

Know when to walk: Political conversations can be exhilarating, mind-enriching discussions when they happen in the right company and in the appropriate setting. Other times, they can be tumultuous, divorce-inciting, friendship-severing, office-alienating battles that seemingly have no end.

Palec argues that politics should never be discussed in the workplace. But if you do get stuck in the midst of what is becoming an emotional political debate, it’s best to bow out.

“When you get into a heated debate, somebody will try to belittle you, jump off the topic, and it becomes more of a dagger-throwing banter vs. an intellectual conversation,” Palec said.

She suggests calmly and politely saying, “I respect your views, however it’s time to end this conversation.” Or, more simply, “I have to get back to work.”



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