Discussing politics can be tricky, especially if the people involved in the conversation do not agree about many of the issues. However, it is completely possible for people who do not agree with each other’s views to remain respectful and conduct the conversation in a productive manner. As long as everyone involved is willing to listen with an open mind, try to find common ground, and stay patient, then the conversation can be fruitful and enlightening.
1. Remain Calm and Respectful
People often hold certain core beliefs that shape who they are and how they act. Talking with someone who disagrees with the religious or political views being put forth can bring up feelings of rejection, anger, and frustration. It can be easy for people to become worked up over political discussions and lose their temper.
However, this is counterproductive, as yelling at someone will usually only convince them to close their ears and disregard any valid points that may be raised. A respectful discussion about politics can occur whether the parties agree or not, as organizations like No Labels, which unites people from all political parties, understand.
2. Ask Plenty of Questions
A lot of the time, people are immersed in a bubble and associate mostly with others who hold similar beliefs. It can be difficult for them to understand exactly why someone would think differently than they do. Asking plenty of questions can help people get a deep understanding of not only what someone believes, but why they hold those beliefs.
Listen closely to the responses instead of using the break in the conversation to think up a rebuttal. When someone asks intelligent questions and is genuinely interested in the answers, it can make the other person feel valued and more open to listening in return.
3. Explore Common Ground
When it comes down to it, most people can agree on many things. Everyone wants clean air, food, and water, and a safe place to live. Even if people do not always agree on how exactly those things should be obtained or protected, they can usually come to an agreement regarding basic human rights.
During the discussion, try to find common ground with others to build rapport and tear down the notion that the people involved in the conversation are opponents. Finding common ground can help people feel more like a team trying to solve an issue rather than opposing an enemy.
4. Be Patient
Sometimes, someone may lose their temper or say something that feels like a personal attack. If that happens, it is important not to lash out with an angry retort. If necessary, try to get away to use the restroom, drink a glass of water, or go for a walk to calm down.
Patience does not come easily to everyone, but most people can improve with practice. If someone knows a political discussion is going to occur, they can utilize deep breathing techniques, do some light exercise, or find other ways to enter a state of calm before it begins.
5. Research Important Topics
Ignorance is not bliss when it comes to political discussions. The world moves at a rapid pace, and situations can change quickly. Try to find an unbiased source to stay abreast of political developments in order to speak intelligently about important topics.
If possible, try to get news about an event from multiple sources that have different political views. Reading or watching news broadcasts from other countries can also offer up a new perspective on political events.
6. Avoid Being Judgmental
Even if someone remains calm and asks a lot of questions, if they are negatively judging everything that the other participants have to say, it will probably be very obvious. If people feel judged for their responses, they may grow defensive or withdraw from the conversation entirely.
Listening with an open mind and treating others with respect is a basic component of any productive conversation. Withhold judgments and try to understand the arguments being made to further the discussion in a positive manner. Do not monopolize the conversation and lecture someone indefinitely about how they are in the wrong.
7. End the Conservation Appropriately
Everyone has a different tolerance level when it comes to discussing politics. Some people love to participate in an engaging debate for hours, while others become uncomfortable or fatigued quickly. Read the room and evaluate the body language and tone of voice presented by others. When it is apparent that they are no longer appropriately engaged, the conversation should come to an end. If necessary, the other people in the discussion can be asked to reconvene later to continue the topic.
Talking about politics, whether it is with family members, friends, or local representatives, should be done with appropriate regard for everyone involved. The other people participating in the conversation are humans and should be treated with basic dignity and respect.