Religion, politics and money–the three conversations we are told not to have. Here’s how and why we should have them.
As men, we may get angry with someone who has an opposing view. Either that or we shut down. Sometimes neither of us listens to the other’s viewpoint nor do we express our own.
Only recently did I start having political conversations with friends, and strangers who have different political affiliations. At first, I didn’t want to engage in this type of conversation because I get pretty worked up about politics. I didn’t want to risk getting into a fistfight or something. However, one of my friends kept engaging me in political conversation despite my retreats from the topic. Now, I mostly enjoy conversing with others about political matters.
Discussing politics, especially at work, is a little risky. However, with society becoming more and more divisive, especially politically—what we actually need is more political conversations. People “on the other side” are not our enemies. The way to combat divisiveness in society is not with more divisiveness but with dialogue and understanding. In the current contentious political climate, it is beneficial for people to discuss politics amongst themselves. Instead of succumbing to discord, follow these keys for a beneficial conversation.
1. Don’t avoid, engage. Give the conversation a chance and see what the person has to say. Step outside of your comfort zone and don’t judge the person or conversation topic. After all, we are all humans, living on this earth together. We might as well learn to live together in harmony, rather than discord.
2. Let the other person do the talking. Listen to the person attentively and don’t react. Absorb what they are saying and reflect on it. Reacting right away, especially angrily, will escalate the conversation into an argument instead.
3. Don’t be afraid to agree. As men, we tend to have big egos and don’t want anyone to shatter this illusion. If the other person, who has differing views, says something you agree with, don’t be afraid to tell them that. Doing this not only sheds your ego but builds trust with the other person. Allowing them to continue engaging you in conversation in a constructive manner.
4. Try to understand. We are all human beings, and someone with different opinions is not an enemy who must be destroyed at all costs. Try to understand what the other persons’ beliefs are by listening and asking sincere questions. When you understand their viewpoint, you can deepen your friendship and learn a lot about people in the process.
5. State your opinion. Don’t be afraid to state your opinion. Just as you let the other person speak their mind, you also have a right to speak your mind. Let your opinions be heard. Then listen carefully to their response. You might learn something new!
6. Still be friends. Finding out that a friend supports such and such a candidate—and you had no idea—can be quite shocking. Instead of judging that person and thinking you will not be friends with them anymore—why not still treat that friend the same way you always have?
Dialogue and tolerance are what is going to move the world in a positive direction. Have an uncomfortable political conversation, today, and let me know what happens!
Photo: Flickr/ Ben Raynal