With the presidential election right around the corner, politics are increasingly becoming the center of conversation. While political issues have always been controversial, this year has proved to be particularly divisive as national tragedies and social issues such as the coronavirus pandemic, the West Coast wildfires, and racial justice movements drive individuals further into their respective ideological corners.
When political conversations with acquaintances, coworkers or even close friends devolve into accusations and arguments, it can be easy to lose hope that peaceful discussions about controversial topics can ever take place.
However, it is possible to have productive dialogue about these important issues. Here are three steps to engaging in peaceful political conversations with anyone.
- Get curious. Curiosity is a powerful tool that can lead to connection, understanding and collaboration when utilized properly. It is difficult to be curious about another person’s experience and angry with them at the same time. By approaching political conversations with true curiosity about another person’s perspective and a willingness to learn instead of trying to prove your point, you can open up avenues for respectful discussion.
- Recognize when you’re triggered. Sometimes when we really care about a topic or really believe in something, it can feel like those who disagree are threatening our sense of identity or sense of safety. If you find yourself emotionally activated or triggered during a political discussion, recognize that this is a common experience and take a break from the conversation until you can approach it with more compassion and objectivity.
- Be vulnerable. Instead of telling others why they are wrong about something or trying to coax them out of their point of view, be vulnerable about your own thoughts and feelings. Share why a situation makes you scared or upset without assigning blame. This will invite vulnerability and honesty from others and will lead to a more productive conversation that focuses on the issues instead of pointing fingers.
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