How To Defuse Political Conversations With Friends And Family

We’re one day away from the elections and tensions are reaching a boiling point. Those political comments from family, friends and co-workers, which we used to be able to sweep aside, are now getting more difficult to ignore. But while there’s no need to agree on politics, candidates and policies, there are ways of managing your response to other people’s baiting, especially if you have a professional relationship with them or you don’t want to ruin a friendship.

Here’s how to start:

State your discomfort

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If you’re having a conversation and it starts to get heated, state your discomfort. Try to avoid awkwardness and instead push for being as sincere as you can. Your response will vary depending on the person you’re talking to; if speaking to a coworker, try to change the subject or state that you’re not in the mood for politics. When speaking to friends and family, you can try a more honest approach.

Know when to end a conversation

The more you’re exposed to different kinds of people, the more you learn how to read their physical and verbal cues. Be aware of them, so when the conversation turns heated, change the course. Election eve might be too late to change someone’s mind, especially if they have strong political views. Save yourself the stress and try to preserve that relationship if it’s important to you.

Have an open mind

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It’s always important to have a discussion with an open mind; try to understand why this person thinks the way they do. This doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them, but it can help you have a more civilized conversation, ensuring that the relationship won’t be lost due to the heat of the moment. Empathy can go a long way.

Be clear

When it comes to your boundaries, don’t mince words. If you know yourself and feel that you won’t be able to engage in a discussion regarding politics without screaming, let other people know that you won’t be talking politics. If you want to have a discussion with someone, try to be the person that you’d like to have a discussion with, taking turns to listen and talking while measuring your words and not being insulting.

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