Mad about politics? Policies? Politicians? Political parties? It’s okay to feel angry, sad or frustrated when political decisions disagree with your beliefs or negatively impact your life or community. However, it is also important to remember that most people actually agree on most issues, and that civil conversations can lead to greater understanding, finding common ground and the promotion of compromise to serve the beliefs and needs of more people.
We contribute to extremism and hyper-partisanship if we refuse to talk with — and listen to — people on the other side of the ideological divide. Some say the strength of our democracy depends on our ability to bring civility into political conversations, as a loss of civility harms our democratic process and institutions by fueling extremism and prioritizing party above issues and solutions. While it’s easy to point to media, politicians and special interests for creating political tribalism, we all have a role to play in fueling or diminishing it.
Choose to practice civility this holiday season to be part of the solution.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Read these articles and put the principles into practice this Thanksgiving season.
- The Atlantic: “The Art of Navigating a Family Political Discussion, Peacefully“
- The New York Times: “Why Is It Important for People With Different Political Beliefs to Talk to Each Other?“
- Vox: “Experts Agree: Don’t Avoid Political Conversations With Family“
Follow these tips on how to have conversations with people who disagree with you:
- Choose to step out of your echo chamber and pursue conversations with people who disagree with you.
- Don’t try to convince them. Just ask questions and listen.
- Find the places where you can agree.
- Try not to judge others for their beliefs – try to understand their beliefs. Where are they coming from, why do they believe what they believe? What values do their beliefs represent?
- Keep calm.
- Put yourself in their shoes.
Find more tips on how to manage conversations when you disagree politically from the American Psychological Association.