Have you noticed how hot it is out there? No, not the weather but the political climate. I’ve heard a number of people say that they’ve unfriended or unfollowed people they once called “friend.” I’ve seen posts from different perspectives seething with emotion. So how do you navigate these challenging times? A millennial from my hometown gym showed courage, respect, and gave a poignant example that we could all learn from.
The young man from one political view point approached another other young man at the gym sporting apparel from the opposing side. This is a bad idea was likely the thought that instantly crossed the mind of anyone who saw the “confrontation” unfold.
May I ask you a question? It began.
Why do you support that individual’s point of view?
The two continued with honest dialog. They shared differences and the “why’s” behind them. In some cases one offered insight the other hadn’t considered. Both passionate about their opinion, yet chose to leave their passion out of their replies. Neither spoke with the intent of “converting” the other. The scene was a remarkable demonstration of what is possible and it left me inspired to consider how we can each be a friend during this tough time.
Ask and listen.
If you’re willing to leave your passion out of the conversation, ask your friend or family member if they’d be willing to have a conversation. Respect their willingness or aversion. If they say no, thank them for the consideration and end the conversation period.
If conversely they agree to talk, consider asking why they support their candidate. Listen, really listen to their response. Specifically listen for their heart in their response. What belief, value, personal experience, or fear is at the root of their response? If they are willing to listen, briefly share your belief or value that causes you to think as you do. If you really want to have a conversation, it needs to be at a different level and not about the politicians or political parties. And, if at any time the other person’s tone becomes defensive, it’s a good time to thank them for being willing to have a conversation and end the discussion respectfully.
Carefully choose where you place your loyalty. Are you willing to be more loyal to a politician than to people who have been with you through your toughest seasons of life? There may be people that you care about that you just don’t see eye to eye with. Is it worth the friendship or the relationship? Can you understand their perspective and remain on different sides of the aisle? Perhaps your history is worth more so perhaps your choice may need to be to avoid political discussion in order to maintain the relationship. I know of a few families who have a “no politics” rule for family gatherings. Perhaps that’s a choice you may need to consider.
Check your sharing.
If you’re like many today, you’re passionate about your viewpoint. With the changing world we live in, that is completely understandable. But, do your friends on social media know more about your political views than how you really are or what you’ve been up to? In the midst of sharing your thoughts, don’t forget to share you – maybe even share selfie with your kids, a picture of that new recipe you tried or even a silly Snapchat photo with whiskers and bunny ears.
Before you share, post, or repeat, check your facts. Was what you’re about to share written by an emotional blogger who didn’t take time to do the research necessary before hitting post? I’m amazed by how many social media posts are inspired by facts but don’t quite line up. It’s also a good idea to earnestly pray for discernment. Every article doesn’t need to be re shared. And, don’t repeat what you can’t verify. No need to add to the rumor mill.
Speak up and advocate.
Respectfully use your voice to advocate for the candidates you support by volunteering. Hold yourself to a standard of respect and continue to listen while you share. Find healthy outlets and methods to share your views understanding that not all of your friends or family might be the best outlet (unless of course they also welcome the opportunity). Find some like-minded people to process your thoughts and the election’s outcome with. Hold yourself to a higher standard of treating people with kindness even when you don’t agree. If you are a person of faith, it’s a standard you should strive for no matter what the situation.
Know your limits.
If you can’t maintain civility, don’t have the conversation. If you feel your blood boiling, it’s time to step away. Every conversation about politics does not need to end in an argument and you don’t need to go to every argument you are invited to. Know your boundaries and limits. If you’re weary from the headlines, make sure you are balancing the “inputs” you allow in your life. Read a book. Listen to music. Talk about something other than politics. Remember why your friends are your friends and go be a friend. Go out for coffee and complain about the weather or talk about your favorite sports team.
It’s your turn:
Friends my wish for you is that you are able to strengthen your relationships despite your disagreements. Be sure to exercise your civic duty and vote. And, be sure to exercise your civility and be respectful no matter who you vote for! As far as the two young men at the gym, the shook hands and thanked each other for remaining civil. We can all learn a lot from their example!
As always, I welcome your comments (as long as they are not political). How are you navigating these tough times? What’s working for you? Click to join the conversation. And, if you think others would benefit from this post, please click to share.
Until next time friend, be blessed!
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