Election season is fast approaching and politics are filling our news and social media feeds. Undoubtedly, you’ll encounter discussions with people whose political beliefs differ from your own. While those conversations can be trying at times, the objective is to prevent them from turning into arguments. Here are three tips to help you engage in political conversations without losing your cool.
- Don’t Make “A Changed Mind” Your End Goal
When you have a different point of view than someone else, it can be tempting to try to convince them to see things your way. However, for most of us, our beliefs are deeply ingrained, long-standing, and stem back to our upbringing. In many cases, people’s political leanings are formed around their own life experiences and morals. So, despite a person’s willingness to listen to opposing viewpoints, it’s unfair to expect them to suddenly abandon their deeply rooted beliefs in an effort to find a mutual understanding. You may have to agree to disagree, and that’s okay.
- Be Respectful
Political conversations sometimes touch on controversial topics, sensitive matters, religious beliefs and personal moral compasses. Because broaching such delicate subjects can lead to hurt feelings, judgment and contention, these conversations are prone to heighten emotional responses. Avoid interrupting, raising your voice or being insulting. Instead, remember to remain respectful. If the conversation becomes tense, kindly let the other party know you need a breather. Take some time to attend to your feelings and return only when you’re completely calm.
- Know When to Walk Away
Unfortunately, not everyone will handle political conversations maturely. Some people are worthy of your time, attention and thoughts, while others are not. If the discussion is taking a turn for the worst, disengage. There are several ways to escape a wayward conversation. Try one of the following:
- Diffuse the situation by refusing to offer counterpoints
- Gradually change the subject to something more pleasant
- Be honest and say you are no longer interested in continuing the conversation
It’s important to note: if you find political conversations to be divisive, you don’t have to participate in them. Politics are complex and can be triggering or anxiety-inducing for many. So, don’t feel pressured into offering input or listening to anyone else share their own. But, if you do plan to join in, keep these three tips handy.