Is anyone else sick of election season yet?
I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for the whole thing to be over. I’ve had enough of people being called “stupid”, “losers”, and “liars”. I know we’ve all got our own opinions, but the name calling needs to stop.
It’s likely that you know, and love, people who do not agree with you politically. That should be okay. But in what seems to be a particularly nasty political season, understanding how to talk to people who hold differing viewpoints is even more important than ever.
So how do you talk about politics with someone who’s views you don’t agree with?
- Genuinely listen to what the other person has to say. I don’t mean to just pay attention long enough for the words to speed through your ears – really listen. Too often instead of listening, we’re thinking about what we’re going to say next to prove them wrong.
- Ask them questions about why they think the way they do. How did they arrive at their viewpoint? What facts and situations have convinced them to adopt a particular opinion? Asking questions does several things: it gives us a glimpse into their thought process, and sometimes gives us the opportunity to examine our own thoughts and opinions. And who knows – if you’re lucky, your political opposite may be forced to examine their own biases as they relate to his/her opinions. This tactic has been known to encourage people to change their minds! But the trick to this is that you have to be listening to the other person in order to ask intelligent questions – and then respect them enough to listen to their answers. Don’t ask the questions if you don’t intent to listen to what they have to say.
- Look for common areas in which you do agree. This is perhaps the most overlooked strategy of all. Most of us can find at least some commonalities in our political beliefs if we dig deep enough. Granted, there are always exceptions, but with continued probing of the issue you may discover areas in which you do have similar thoughts. These at least give you some areas to agree on even when you’re miles apart in other areas. While political parties (and candidates) like to emphasize the differences between viewpoints, the reality may be that there is more agreement on core points than originally thought. But you’ll never know unless you examine the core values behind your opinions.
- Stick to facts.
- Try not to get emotional. You don’t need to get upset when someone doesn’t agree with you. The fact is that a lot of people won’t agree with you – nor you with them. Getting angry, upset, or defensive over it won’t change that fact. It just makes you look unsure of your own opinion if you have to resort to an emotional tirade to defend it.
- Be respectful of their opinion. Ultimately, if you want respect you have to be willing to give it.
- Agree to disagree. Hopefully both sides will be willing to do this.
Thankfully, election season WILL come to an end. Hopefully we’ll still be on speaking terms with our friends and family when it does.