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We live in one of the most politically heated times in history. Expressing your point of view is a personal decision and can be tricky. Although conversations may start out benign, they can quickly become a toxic dialogue.
Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert, author, and the founder of Access to Culture, says there are several “do’s and dont’s” to make sure polite political discourse doesn’t turn into hostile debates.
Show respect for differing opinions
It can be challenging to listen to those with different opinions. It’s important to show respect and take time to listen, giving the other person the opportunity to share their viewpoints. The Platinum rule encourages treating others as they wish to be treated. Stay calm, collected and respectful.
Agree to disagree
If their opinions are different from your views, you can agree to disagree. Try saying something along the lines of, “I respect your perspective, but I think we may need to agree to disagree” or “That’s a different way of thinking about the issue, but I’m comfortable if you and I can agree to disagree.”
If someone asks you a question about your political beliefs, you can reciprocate by asking them about their own beliefs. Let the other person do the talking while you listen. Try to ask open-ended questions such as, “What are your thoughts on the current political atmosphere?” or “How do you feel about the media’s portrayal of …?”
Change the subject
- If someone continues to ask your opinion, change the topic by saying: “It’s impossible to keep track of the different versions of the news. How is your family doing by the way?” “With the divisive political atmosphere, I’m not comfortable sharing my personal opinions, but thank you for your interest.” “I can’t answer that question, but what I can discuss is… ”
Get angry, cross or upset
It can be difficult to keep your temper, but don’t get angry or upset if you don’t agree with someone’s viewpoints. Expressing sarcasm, bitterness or passive aggressiveness won’t change any minds. It will only damage your reputation.
Talk over them
The worst thing you could do is interrupt conversation and start talking about your own opinion. Be respectful of other opinions and views. Listen attentively, especially when you don’t agree with that viewpoint. It gets easier the more you practice.
Politics is a difficult conversation, particularly with family members and close friends. If you are speaking to someone you’ve just met, refrain from oversharing. In this case, less is more. Avoid saying something you will later regret.
We make mental notes when we first meet someone new. We make a first impression based on hair, shoes, watch, clothing, mannerisms, etc. However, political views are hidden unless they are shared verbally or by wearing a revealing detail. It’s important to approach people with an open mind to avoid awkward and potentially toxic conversations.
For the Silo, Scott Jones.
Featured image- http://ashleylewis-oldmeetsnew.blogspot.ca/