Something that seems to come up during family events, no matter how hard we try to avoid it, is politics. It’s likely the leading cause of ruined holidays and family gatherings. Opposing views are not uncommon to friends and family, debates are bound to happen. Unfortunately, debates can often lead to arguments, even if that’s not the intention. Thankfully there are a few ways to avoid butting heads over politics among family and friends.
One thing you can do to avoid conflict is recognizing two things:
- The importance of your relationships
- That we all experience the world differently.
Once you’ve recognized these two things, you’ll realize that sometimes it’s just not worth fighting over something like politics. Humans are unique creatures, none of us are the same, we all have different thought processes, and see things differently. When you recognize that it is literally natural for humans to have differing ideas, you’ll understand that it’s not that important, and not worth destroying your relationships with family and friends.
Know Which Fights to Fight
Despite whatever your relationship is with someone, eventually, you’ll give into demeaning and aggressive behavior. There are a few things you can do:
- Avoid the conflict altogether
- Remove yourself from the situation
- Ask them why it matters so much
You’ll eventually get those friends or family members that simply care too much about politics. The best thing to do here is to avoid conversing about it. If they are determined to talk about it simply ask them “why do you have to have my agreement?” or “why do you care so much?” Still, you’ll have those that absolutely can’t drop the subject, these people likely thrive off of conflict, so you simply remove yourself from the equation.
Set Some Ground Rules
There are people who simply think that because they dominate the conversation that means they’ve won, wrong. These people will interrupt you and talk over you. Don’t give them that opportunity, tell them if they want to have a discussion or debate, you’re going to do it formally and fairly. This way when they interrupt you or don’t give you a chance to voice your opinion you can walk away, or possibly even claim victory.
Another thing you should set rules about is name-calling and belittling. Some opponents will berate you with such antics. Simply tell them that in order to debate they have to provide solid and validated points, and once the name-calling starts it’s over. A prior agreement helps avoid a further argument about who won the debate.
Avoid Labels and Assumptions
There are a lot of assumptions when it comes to politics, but understand and recognize that not everyone that has those beliefs is the same. A big false assumption is that Republicans are racist, this simply isn’t true, while some may be, not every Republican is; some Democrats are racist, in fact, Democrats have a history of being racist and oppressive. Another largely false assumption is that Democrats hate capitalism, yes it’s true that some do, and a lot of Democrats like the idea of socialism, but not all of them.
Labels only serve to drive a wedge between groups with opposing views, and will do little to help find common ground. Stereotypes such as those listed above should be avoided if at all possible. A civil discussion shouldn’t be tainted with such unproven opinions. You don’t want them to hold preconceived notions about your beliefs, and you should give them the same courtesy.
The point is to not label someone just because of their political preferences. This can lead to an argument, especially when the name-calling starts, or you question someone’s intelligence. It’s best to just have a calm, educated discussion to avoid it turning into a conflict. It’s okay to have different ideas from everyone else, it’s natural, just don’t let it destroy your life.
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