Picture this: the year is 2015 and you’re meeting your friend at a restaurant. You eat indoors. You don’t own a mask and the only corona you know of is a Mexican beer. You take a sip from your friend’s drink and shake hands with a stranger (I know, at this point this is all seeming too unrealistic.) You find out that your friend doesn’t share the same political beliefs as you and guess what? You don’t care and reach for another nacho. Even though indoor seating is a pretty far fetched concept right now, the craziest part of that entire story is the fact that two friends could have different political beliefs and still be friends. In the confusing and divided year of 2020 that just doesn’t seem possible. It wasn’t until recent years that people even started having this issue. The U.S. is so divided right now, and most people are not open to getting to know someone who doesn’t have the same political beliefs that they have. I believe that someone’s political views are a reflection of their morals, therefore I think it is an important factor in deciding if you want to associate with someone. However, I think if we used more of our energy to understand and less to criticize we may come to realize that people who vote differently than us aren’t necessarily ignorant, evil people. If you have friends or loved ones with different beliefs, these tips will help you to talk about politics with them without ruining the relationship.
Have a conversation about expectations
I’ve learned that the best way to ensure that you work through an issue is to plan for it. Before you have a difficult discussion, have a conversation about what to do when an issue arises. What do you say when you start to feel triggered? How should you communicate if you feel offended? Planning for this will help you to understand that these issues will arise and that your friends aren’t trying to offend you. When you can expect issues, you will be better equip to handle them. Another important thing to keep in mind is to make sure that you’re both in a calm, healthy state of mind before having the discussion. No conversation goes well when you’re hangry or tired.
Listen. Listen. Listen
The main reasons why these issues occur is because most people are more focused on answering back than they are on listening. If you want to maintain a healthy relationship, listening is key. Hear the other person out and make them feel validated. It doesn’t mean you have to agree with them, it just means that you make them feel recognized. If someone feels like you’re not listening to them and that you don’t care about what they’re saying, they won’t want to hear you out and will probably start attacking back. As hard as it may be, try your best to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. When you allow yourself to view a situation from another perspective, you’ll find that what they believe probably isn’t as crazy as you first thought. No one grew up with the same experiences as you did so that means that everyone’s views will differ.
Agree to disagree
The purpose of discussing politics shouldn’t be to bring someone to your side, instead it should be to hear why someone thinks how they think. Allow yourself to be understanding and open to change. Friendships don’t have to end just because you have a friend who thinks differently than you. As long as both parties are respectful, understanding, and open to growth and reason, your friendship will thrive.
Have you ever dealt with having a friend or spouse who has a different political belief? Comment below what your experience has been and if you think this is something you could handle.
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