When discussing politics, people often enter conversations hell-bent on changing their opponent’s thinking. However, I have found that if I approach terse, political dialogue with an open mind, seeking to broaden my perspective, I accomplish so much more! Oftentimes, people are set in their ways, and no amount of persuasion or data can alter their perceptions. It’s difficult to see the people you love ascribe to divisive, retrogressive political ideologies. Nevertheless, It’s always worth having a discussion, and trying to open someone’s mind to new ideas. Here are some helpful tips for approaching political discourse in a calm, productive manner:
1. Make sure to emphasize the fact that even though you may have differing opinions, you still value your friend. This creates a safe environment to engage in a mature conversation.
2. If possible, do some research prior to your conversation to make sure you’re well versed on the topic. Make a list of some key points you want to hit in the discussion.
3. If you’re entering a spontaneous discussion, assess how much you know about a topic. Address the limits of your knowledge. Authenticity and transparency is the key to success!
4. Give the other person a chance to voice their opinion. Don’t cut them off or interject; this could escalate the situation into a fight, rather than a conversation.
5. When advocating for your beliefs, maintain a calm voice, and avoid an argumentative tone.
6. If your friend corrects you about a fact or statistic, or provides enlightening information, don’t be embarrassed! We all have things that we need to learn; no one knows everything! Thank the person for clearing up the point, and embrace this educational moment.
7. If the discussion doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, and tension is building on both sides, take a breather to avoid saying hurtful comments. Sometimes, the only end point is acknowledging that you accept each other’s differences. Hopefully, the conversation provided insight for both parties.
It’s not an easy time to discuss politics with friends right now, especially for people who tend to avoid controversial situations. Each discussion we have helps us build compassionate hearts and improve on a shared vision for the future. We’re at a turning point right now in American history, and we have the chance to make a difference. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and enter highly charged discussions; that’s how you learn and empower yourself!
Do you feel disconnected from the current political climate? It’s never too late to start learning! Check out news resources, political blogs, and other third party sources to get a full picture, and start researching your choices for the election in November. Likewise, register to vote! Each state has different deadlines, so be sure to familiarize yourself with your timing. The worst thing we can do is stay silent in the face of injustice; it’s time for us to make a difference and create change that we can be proud of!
Written by: Christy Wong