No question, there is a lot of political tension out there since the most recent Presidential election. These days, it seems like the gap between conservatives and liberals grows bigger and bigger every year. And, unfortunately, their differences have led to physical harm, emotional abuse, and name calling on both sides.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We’re adults here. We can act like it
We can maturely handle awkward conversations that turn political when we would instead not “go there”? We can manage differences of opinion respectfully without escalating things and sincerely admire those that think differently from us even if we don’t agree. All it takes is to keep the following points in mind.
If you are one of those folks that have strong, deeply rooted beliefs in one party system but is neighbors or friends with people who starkly disagree with you – yet you want to get along – this post is for you!
First, Realize That We Probably Have More In Common Than We Think
Look, regardless of which ‘side’ you’re on, chances are you probably agree with your friend or neighbor on at least a few things:
• You love your country
• Homeland safety is good for everyone
• Everyone wins when families are self-sufficient and can thrive economically
• A well-educated population tends to result in a more prosperous society
• When we all respect and follow the law (i.e. play by the same rules), fewer people get hurt or taken advantage of, and it’s a fair playing field for everyone
• You probably agree on a lot more too…
Yes, of course, we don’t agree on other big issues. But if we focus first on where we have common ground with people, we tend to let our guard down a little and listen without judgment, knowing that we really all want this country to prosper.
Don’t Try to Prove Anyone Wrong…Unless You Thrive On Personal Conflict and Drama
‘”Oh, you’re right, I should totally change my mind based on the fact that you disagree,” said no one ever. Even if you have facts to back up your point of view, most likely, the person stating their opposite perspective isn’t interested. Today, a lot of people have their minds made up and trying to force your beliefs onto them is not going to bode well for you.
Instead, listen. It’s ok to admit you don’t agree, but try to do so respectfully. Like “Hey, that’s a valid point. I don’t necessarily share your sentiment, but it sounds like you’ve done your research.” And, then, if they seem to be receptive, it’s probably safe to go ahead and share your own experience or research to shed some new light on the matter.
If they aren’t looking receptive, let it go. Change the subject
Stick With the Facts Jack
Social media can amplify personal conflict and let disagreements escalate quickly. Between insulting memes, condescending assumptions and outright name-calling, sometimes reason seems to escape people online entirely.
Don’t be that guy/gal
Keep your cool and stick with the facts. If you have publicly known facts that dispute a claim or shed light on a subject, share that…respectively, and sans the sarcasm or insults. Putting other people down because they don’t agree with you isn’t going to take the conversation anywhere. It’s just going to make people on both sides defensive and closed-minded.
Realize That You Might Have Something to Learn Yet
Most of us can be so pig-headed to believe we’re always right and have all the facts…but we don’t, that would be impossible. Even journalists who report on politics for a living don’t know it all!
There is always something new to learn – a fresh perspective to hear – a breaking story to come across.
If you approach heated political conversations with an open mind, ready to learn something new, rather than assuming you know it all, you might actually go, figure, learn something new.
You’ll also gain instant respect from others because they’ll see you’re a reasonable, mature person who waits for all the information before formulating an opinion and doesn’t just assume everyone outside your political party is always wrong or misinformed.
Finally, Find The Joy In Diversity
You probably will not agree on a political discussion with someone who has very opposing views as you. Most likely, you can’t convince them to change their opinions or their view of the world. However, you can help them think more carefully, and that’s valuable. There is joy in the exchange of ideas, even those that are in opposition. There is enlightenment in the simple understanding of another’s perspective. There is wisdom in letting differences bring diversity into the world. So, let’s prepare ourselves to listen to things we do not like. Let’s enjoy looking to someone whose ideas are at odds with ours, knowing that new perspectives make us stronger and wiser.
Take to heart these tips for approaching tense political discussions more amicably, and soon you’ll find that even the most uncomfortable talks with friends and neighbors can become pleasant and even enlightening if you’re open to it.