How to talk politics with friends

How to talk politics with friends

Annabel Williamson, Managing Editor

There are many do’s and don’ts to having a friendly conversation. Make eye contact, ask questions, and most importantly, never ever talk politics. But while it’s easier to simply not talk about some issues instead of facing the possibility of a disagreement, there is no doubt that some issues are worth discussion with people you care about and respect. So, here are some tips on how to talk politics without it ending in a ruined relationship. 

1. Be respectful 

This one should go without saying, but it is an important reminder. You must continue to respect the other person’s opinion whether you agree with it or not. These conversations become an issue when it gets personal, and that occurs once the line of a respectful discussion is crossed and each person begins attacking the other. According to The Spruce, the best way to stay respectful is to avoid name calling, don’t take anything personally, ask questions, and give praise. Understanding each person is entitled to his or her opinion is key to having a respectful political discussion. 

2. It is a conversation, not a debate

The most dangerous mistake that is made while talking politics is going into the conversation trying to change someone’s mind immediately. Understand that people must come to their own decisions and that they might not agree with your viewpoint at the time.  Yes, someone may change his or her mind after hearing a different perspective, but that is unlikely. Jennifer Bailey and Arthur Brooks say in an article from NPR, “don’t view the conversation as an ´I win, you lose´ debate. Rather, consider it an opportunity to understand the other person and the reasons behind that person’s position.” Keeping the conversation at just sharing well supported opinions is the best way to make sure the discussion does not turn ugly.

3. Do not jump to conclusions 

Politics today are often too focused on labels. While having a political conversation, do not focus on the label of others and assume one’s beliefs just because of a political party. Many identify as a certain political party because it is what they agree with most; that does not mean that person agrees with everything that party stands for. According to psychology today, one way to avoid jumping to conclusions is to “test your ability to see the whole picture.” It is important to listen to what a person is  telling you instead of immediately disagreeing with them just because of a label. Each person has his or her own beliefs, and we must be able to talk to each other without the fear of ruining a relationship.