When our views contradict those of our family members, it can lead to big arguments if we’re not careful. Emily Wind shares her tips for navigating political discussions in the lead up to the election.
When talking to your family about controversial topics like politics, things can sometimes get a bit heated- this is especially common during election time. We all tend to have pretty strong beliefs when it comes to policies we agree and disagree with, and politicians we either love or hate.
If you want to leave your upcoming family dinner unscathed, here’s what you do.
1. Don’t bring up politics
Yes, this tip is kind of a no-brainer.
If you know someone has a totally opposite viewpoint to you, sometimes it’s better to just not bring politics up with them in order to keep a family get-together civil. If someone else brings it up, refer to tips 2-6.
2. Use first person language
When politics is brought up and you want to share your beliefs, it’s always best to use first person language rather than second person language.
“I feel like…” and “I believe that…” are much safer than targeting the other person with “you think this…” and “you believe that…”. This way, the discussion will feel like a conversation rather than an argument.
3. Focus on the issue, not your opponent
Similar to tip 2, it’s important to talk about the issue at hand and why you agree or disagree, rather than making accusations or assumptions about the other person.
It’s very likely that everyone will leave the discussion with the same views they held at the beginning, so targeting the other person while trying to get them to agree with you won’t achieve anything.
4. Listen to your opponent
Listening to your family members beliefs and opinions shows them that you care about their feelings, and are open to what they have to say. It also establishes grounds for you to, in turn, share your beliefs and opinions about an issue.
Listening to your opponent encourages them to grant you the respect that you’ve shown them, and leads to a much more constructive discussion.
5. Aim for understanding, not agreement
During political discussions, it’s easy to get caught up in trying to prove a point or come to some form of agreement with the other person.
If the focus is shifted from agreement to simply trying to understand each other a bit more, the tone of the conversation will change and the frustration that comes with disagreement will be lessened.
6. Know when to walk away
No matter how hard you try to keep things civil, sometimes these discussions can just get out of hand. When you and/or your opponent start to raise your voice, or if people start making offensive comments that go beyond opinion and into attack territory, its best to just agree to disagree and walk away.
Discussing politics with family is totally different from discussing it with strangers.
Not only will you be seeing family again and again after this discussion, but emotions are heightened when you personally know the other party. That’s why it’s important to focus on respect and understanding with family members, and reserve harsher debate tactics for those we have no relation to.
Feature Image: Johanna Dahlberg via Unsplash, no changes made.