These days in this strictly partisan atmosphere of politics, it’s harder than ever to have a constructive conversation with those on the opposite side of the aisle from you. In the supercharged online space where hatred spewing (ALL CAPS) commentary can discourage you from speaking out, it becomes especially difficult to know how to have a conversation with others about politics and world events.
When we look back at the foundation of how our country was built, we were a truly divided nation that formed much of it’s structure after the civil war. It was Abraham Lincoln during his 1861 inaugural address that said, “We must not be enemies. Though passion mat have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”
That was a much more polarizing time where the country literally split in two in order to fight for what they believed it. His message hits home especially now when a majority of the American people have chosen strict sides of the Democratic/Republican tickets.
There is one thing that still bonds us together all as one, and thats the strong bond to the United States of America that keep us connected to a greater cause. That is why it’s important to find ways to stop the yelling for a few minutes to hear each other out so we can understand how others views may align or not to what we feel. It’s only by talking openly and constructively that we will understand how to fix this divide.
So go bake that pie, prepare that pasta dish, or grab pack of beer and knock on that neighbor’s door and use these tips for how to talk about politics without a battle ensuing.
Rules for talking politics constructively:
State Your Intentions
The easiest way to ensure you can have a successful conversation about politics is to set the intentions of what each of you are looking for prior to discussing it. By mutually discussing what you want to achieve from the discussion you’ll know how to approach it better when discussing your point of views.
Understanding what the benefit will be by learning from each other will serve as your compass as the discussion moves forward.
During a political discussion, you may feel very strongly about a topic as it can affect your real-world situation. In those situations we are normally keen on digging our heels in and try to prove the other person wrong.
To have a constructive discussion you have to remove all judgement and even when you disagree, extend yourself further than you normally would by asking questions and eliminating your prior assumptions.
Search For Understanding
All friendships are built upon trust and understanding. Those relationships where you can say to yourself that you know exactly what they’re thinking happened because you’ve taken the time in the past to ask questions and learn everything about them.
When you’re having a discussion about something that gets your blood boiling over differences in viewpoints, just remember that the person you’re talking to likely feels that way due to past experiences that have lead them to that point.
Typically there is a very strong story behind that person’s viewpoint that they may not openly be willing to share unless you ask. By approaching their viewpoint with the goal of understanding the core of why they feel to strongly one way or the other will give you that insight you wanted when you started the discussion.
Throughout your discussion you’ll often uncover very personal and emotional situations which have caused the other person to feel so strongly about a topic. They may also open up about their values, beliefs, family situation, hopes, fears, and many other very personal feelings.
Show your appreciation for their willingness to share will not only make the other person feel that you respect their life experiences, but it also only helps to strengthen the relationship between both of you.
Discover Common Ground
While we typically think the lines between Red and Blue are very strict, through in-depth discussions about a topic you’ll find that more often than not you actually have more in common that you would have though.
The most common theme found in most political discussions is that we all agree what the country’s key challenges are, but where we differ is how to solve for the problem. By finding that you share that common ground, it helps to bond us to a certain cause – even if our pathway to get that cause accomplished may not be the same.
At the end of the day, you dont have to agree with the person’s viewpoints that you were talking with. The goal of your discussion should never be to shift each-other’s point of view.
Any healthy friendship should be built on both trust and respect. The difficult yet helpful art of respectfully disagreeing is key to coming away from the discussion without any animosity or anger.
At the end of every discussion, hopefully you’ve come away with a better understanding of how people think and feel about the current political situation in the world. Learning how others feel/think will help you make your own decisions. It will also help you to feel a little less divided as you’ll now know whats behind the anger on the other side as well.
Keep exploring, learning, and loving our neighbors more!