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With the U.S. Election Day just around the corner, political discussions are becoming particularly heated and argumentative. Many voters-to-be continue to strive to change the minds of their friends and family before November 8th. Individuals of all nationalities, in fact, have opinions on this year's controversial candidates.
Though discussing politics can be invigorating, bitter fights and snide remarks can also end friendships and cause familial drama. Follow these simple tips to avoid the biggest pitfalls of engaging in political discourse this election season.
1.) Don't try to change any minds.
Many people are passionate about their political convictions. Though others may not be as firmly set in their views, they likely have meaningful reasons for believing in their candidate's declarations. Changing minds is indeed possible, but this process is gradual and requires parties that are open to debating the issues on a deeper level. Trying to change minds during election season, however, will probably lead to unproductive bickering. If you're still looking to make a persuasive argument, consider sticking to a topic that you know particularly well. Debating the issues rather than resorting to ad hominem attacks is the best way to persuade others that your opinions are worth hearing.
2.) Keep your expressions and physical reactions under control.
It's easy to make impassioned statements when discussing political campaigns. Even so, it is imperative that you remain calm and composed when defending your political stance. Don't raise your voice and speak steadily. Keep your body language open and relaxed. In addition to benefiting the tone of the entire conversation, a calm demeanor will make you appear more credible and informed. If your conversational partner becomes irate, take a deep breath and change the subject or end the conversation. Bitter argumentation will only serve to damage your relationship.
3.) Listen to your conversational partner and validate their feelings.
Though you may disagree with your conversational partner, it is important to treat their opinions with respect. Avoid personal attacks on your friends or the politicians they support. Allow your conversational partner to discuss the candidate they support and the issues that are most important to their heart. Though you may feel differently, don't denigrate someone's views just because you hold other beliefs. Instead, make statements that validate their opinions, such as "I can understand your feelings regarding this issue. I can see why, too, since [restating their argument]." After validating these beliefs, you can gently state your view on the issue and defend it. By doing so, you can counter an argument without causing feelings of pain and frustration.
4.) Reserve judgment and seek genuine understanding.
The best political conversations are an outgrowth of curiosity rather than judgment. Those who have held the same political convictions for their entire lives often feel that they "can't understand" why anyone would hold an opinion that is contrary to their own. Instead of judging your conversational partner for holding different beliefs, try to understand your opponent's feelings and convictions. Though you may feel that their beliefs are misguided or based on false premises, try your best to understand the emotions behind these viewpoints. Though you may not be able to convince others that your interpretations of the issues are sounder than theirs, you can at least seek to sympathize with the sentiments behind their beliefs. An opinion that you viewed as selfish might seem more comprehensible when viewed through the lens of someone's personal history. Seek to build empathy rather than mistrust.
5.) End things on a positive note.
It is crucial that you end your political conversation on good terms. During your chat your conversational partner likely divulged a number of personal stances and beliefs that reflect their values. It can be difficult to discuss your fears and dreams with others. Take the time to thank your conversational partner for talking to you. Express gratitude for their openness and willingness to discuss these personal and contentious topics with you.
If the conversation has instead taken a turn for the worse, try to end your discussion before things get truly ugly. Consider telling your conversational partner that you'd like to research the issues further before continuing your conversation. You can also change the subject or politely insist that you must get back to work. Again, thank them for talking to you. Though you cannot control others' emotions, you can always respond in a polite and generous manner.
In Conclusion: Though politics can be difficult to discuss, it is, in fact, possible to carry on civil conversations with most individuals. By avoiding anger and sticking to persuasive arguments and empathetic liste
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