6 Ways to Handle Family and Friends With Different Political Views

Hot Health
By Hot Health November 7, 2016 09:30
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6 Ways to Handle Family and Friends With Different Political Views

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When Your Friends and Family Have Different Political Opinions Than You

It’s not uncommon to find yourself amongst a group of people with different political views than your own. It probably even happens when you’re with your own family and friends. In fact, around half of Americans have a different political affiliation than their own parents. Thirty percent of married couples belong to different political parties.

So, how should you handle a political conversation with these people? It’s important to keep your relationship intact, but political topics can be very touchy. In this day and age, differing political views can lead to heated arguments. However, it is important to have conversations with people even if their views are different from your own. It can be healthy and constructive to have conflicting opinions if you can discuss them. It can lead to a stronger relationship, a better understanding of each other, and more open-mindedness for both of you.

It’s important that we question our own political beliefs. Healthy debate and discussion about controversial topics can help us do this. Confirmation bias is when we are only exposed to news sources that support what we already believe. This is easy when we can tailor our social media news feeds to filter out what we don’t want to see. Also, it begins to happen naturally based on who we choose to spend time with, where we work, etc. When this happens, your own beliefs are never tested.

When it comes time to have a political discussion with someone you love but disagree with, first think about your goals for the conversation. It is unlikely that you will be able to change the person’s mind, just as they will probably not change yours. Before you even begin the conversation, you need to be able to deal with the possibility that you cannot change their mind. Don’t start the conversation if you can’t handle the result. 

Be sure not to verbally attack the person you’re conversing with. They feel just as strongly about their opinion as you do about yours. You should validate their feelings, but you don’t need to agree with them. When trying to convince them of something, point out the positives of your ideology rather than the negatives of theirs.

When conversing about politics, try to keep it focused on an individual issue rather than a political party or candidate. This can be very difficult as many beliefs are entwined with candidates and parties. However, don’t use the second issue to try and invalidate someone’s opinions about the first issue.

Just as important as keeping the conversation focused is remembering that the person you’re talking to does not represent a political party or candidate. Someone may support some of the Republican ideologies, but that doesn’t make them President Trump. It is very easy to unleash all your frustration with a party or candidate on the person you’re talking to, but they are not responsible for it. At most, they cast one single vote. Don’t hold them accountable for everything that you feel is wrong with the world.

6 Ways to Handle Family and Friends With Different Political Views

If you’re getting into a conversation with a friend who has a different political view than you, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

  1. Start by asking questions. First off, ask for their opinion on a topic. Do not start out aggressive. When they tell you what they feel, ask them why. Listen, and then give your opinion.
  2. Acknowledge their view. Say that you understand where they are coming from with their opinions. Then it can be constructive to explain a bit about your background and what has led you to feel the way you do about the issue.
  3. Stay offline. Compassion and empathy are very difficult to express via social media. These types of conversations are best-had face to face.
  4. Give advice, but only if you must. You may have a good friend who is always sharing memes that are meant to invoke a political debate. Maybe they always post articles that are obviously false. Send them a friendly message. Tell them that their posts are coming across a bit strong and they may be influencing some attitudes about them that are unwarranted. It’s possible that this is exactly what the person wants. If that’s the case, there isn’t much you can do. This is another time where you need to be prepared to not get the outcome you were hoping for. But if the person is a good friend, it won’t hurt to send them a message.
  5. Avoid reactionary behavior. Think twice before posting something that may lead to harsh feedback. You don’t want to be on the receiving end of one of those messages we just talked about! Follow the same ground rules you expect others to follow. Think about how you would feel if someone else posted the same thing. Then consider how you would feel if they posted something with a similar tone but stating the opposite message. It’s probably best to not post it.
  6. Downgrade your relationship. This is the last resort, but if a person is offensive and doesn’t realize why (or worse, doesn’t care), then you may need to take a step back. You can hide their posts on social media. If it goes beyond that, cut back on the time you spend with them in real life.

A few general communication tips are always good. These can come in handy for any type of conversation but are especially good to keep in mind when talking about politics. First, make sure you’re not practicing blocked listening. This is when you’re listening solely for an opportunity to jump in and disagree. If you’re waiting to use the word “but,” you’re probably engaging in blocked listening.

If necessary, simply agree to disagree. You may feel yourself getting emotional or notice the other person is. This is when it’s time to take a break. Also, if your friend tries to end the conversation, don’t force them to continue. Keep in mind that your personal relationship is more important than your political views.

One should keep in mind that certain exiting strategies can be damaging to a relationship. Phrases like “We’ll just have to agree to disagree,” can actually be harmful if the other party doesn’t feel they have had their chance to say their piece. If you’ve said this to cut them off you’re not just ending the conversation. You’re trying to get the last word. Instead, try something like, “You’ve given me a lot to think about. Let’s talk about something else and revisit this later.”

Hot Health
By Hot Health November 7, 2016 09:30
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