It’s campaign season again, and forever and ever. Seriously, when is your Facebook newsfeed not full of political nonsense? Whether you’re talking politics with someone on social media or in real life, things tend to get heated. Here are tips on how to talk politics without fighting with someone whose opinions are different than yours.
1- Separate someone’s opinions from who they are as a person
Dogs do it all the time.
This can be tough when you feel the person is talking garbage, and it gets extra tricky when speaking about social issues. But remember, if you typically like this person, except when talking politics, they’re probably a good person. By doing this, it’s less likely you’ll give personal jabs and attacks.
2- Acknowledge the relationship when things get heated
It’s bound to happen. Acknowledging the relationship — if there is one — when things get heated helps to put things back into perspective. If it’s a longtime friend, you don’t want to jeopardize that. And if it’s just a random guy at the gas station, why the hell are you talking politics with him??
3- Actually listen to what they’re saying
Typically we don’t listen because we already *know* what they’re going to say or we’re too busy planning out our next statement. If you both do this, the whole conversation is doomed. If you feel like you’re going to forget what you were going to say, write it down, then sit back, take a deep breath and listen.
4- Remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion — even if it’s stupid
This one sucks. But it’s true. Just as you think their opinion is dumb, many think yours is, too.
5- Try to find common ground
This one is so important. I find that people are often surprised to learn that this common ground usually exists.
6- Explain what you think someone is saying
So many conversations and ‘facts’ about politics are basically a game of telephone. We don’t fully understand what someone means, but we assume the worst and then that becomes our truth. To fix this, explain how you interpreted what someone said. In doing you might find that you were totally wrong about their stance on an issue, learn something new, discover common ground, or allow the person the opportunity to realize the absurdity of their opinion.
7- Ask an honest question
Questions make us think critically, and allow opportunity to view things from a different perspective. By asking a question, you both might realize you have no clue what you’re talking about.
8- Stay focused on one topic at a time
A conversation about taxes, turns to immigration, turns to abortion, turns to religion, then turns into a nightmare. Before you know it no one even knows what the hell they’re talking about — they’re just pissed.
9- Don’t name call
The first one to freak out loses. Don’t be a troll on the internet, or in real life. Keep things civil. No one is going to think you have any good points if you freak out and act like a giant asshole.
10- Remember that changing someone’s mind isn’t your job
It isn’t. And if you think it is, you’re fired.
Closing reminder: All of these can be avoided by simply not talking about politics at all.