Successfully navigating a political conversation

The last four years have been a very divisive time politically in the United States with a person who some would call polarizing in the white house named Donald Trump.

I believe you should not need to go to the extreme of avoiding political conversations with others whose political leanings are different from yours if you handle it the right way.

The dangers to political conversations:

Politics can be discussed practically everywhere in the Untied States freely without fear of oppression from the government.  That does not exclude you from any consequences and repercussions from your co-workers, friends, lover, family, and the online community. 

Political conversations with co-workers

Most companies and business have a zero tolerance to conversations and discussions at work with co-workers on the topic of politics.  If where you work or volunteer has such a policy, then you should not discuss politics with your co-works at work and avoid such conversations started by others by politely excusing yourself or just walking away from the conversation.

If your place of work does not have a policy against political conversations, or you choose to ignore it, be warned, there can be dire consequences for participating in a political debate at your workplace.

Some people may become vindictive against someone who challenged their political beliefs.  Some coworkers may try to sabotage your work, damage, or ruin your reputation or blame you for mistakes they make.  Superiors may deny you a promotion, work to get you fired or make it so unpleasant you will want to quit.

Political conversations with customers and clients

It may make your skin crawl when you have a customer or client express a political view that is different from your own.  The best thing to do is not engage them in the conversation.  Remember the customer is always right and when the customer is wrong the customer is right.  It is not worth losing a customer or client over a difference in politics.  They have a right to vent, you should remain professional and let them vent.

Political conversations with friends.

Political conversations among friends go fine if everyone is of the same mind.  When there is dissension among the ranks that is when bad things can and often will happen.  Bitter feelings may begin to brew, Friendships can be damaged if not destroyed. 

Political conversations with a lover.

Politics can make strange bedfellows, and in a lover and it can get stranger.

Fortunately for me my wife and I are in almost complete alignment when it comes to our thoughts on politics – except for one political issue and I am not saying which one.

For some couples’ different political views on many issues make the relationship better. 

To each their own.

Discover what is right for you and your lover.  If you do not, I fear that it can cause tension, hurt feelings and a relationship that goes nowhere fast.

Political conversations with family.

Tread lightly in conversations about politics with family.

In some families a political difference does not matter, but in families who are strong in their politics, this can lead to being bullied and looked down upon if not shunned or disowned.

I know that having a different political opinion than the rest of your family can be extremely difficult and troubling.  You are dealing with people who you are related to and unlike friends and co-workers, in some families being family is a life sentence you can not get out of until death. 

Political conversations on social media and in the digital world.

Of all aspects of where people discus politics, it is my opinion the worst is on social media.

Why?  Two reasons: the first is that those of us who have a political opinion feel strongly about our opinion, combine that with the fact that we do not like being told our views are wrong causes us to defend ourselves to a new level.

Most of us speak and act differently online than we do in real life.  We tend to do and say things online we would never say to someone in person.  Basically, we forget there is a human on the other side, so we fire both barrels of anger and rage when it comes to politics – especially when we are defending our views or candidate.

The danger of a political debate that turns into a war online is that it is never goes away.  Your comments and conversations can haunt you forever in cyberspace history.  They can cost your friendships, relationships, and jobs today and tomorrow.  They can lead to trolls who will harass you and in some rare cases death threats.  Even if you regret your comments a few hours alter and delete them, screenshots can be taken by others before you delete your comments and used against you – possibly reporting your rant to administrators of social media platform if not to others.

If you have a social media presence that is connected to your business, unless you work in politics, keep politics off your social media pages PERIOD!.  Political views associated with a business will turn off customers and clients who either have a different political view than yours or hate hearing about politics.  Remember your views are you own and should not be tied with your business brand.

Also, do not send your unsolicited political opinions via email to everyone you know.  You do not know their political views and it is quite possible you will get responses back accusing you of spamming them between cramming their views down your throat, or you will loose valuable contacts in your life, or both.

Advice to successfully navigate you through a political conversation

I am sure that you do not want any of these worst-case sceneries to occur to you.  I am also sure you feel that if someone has the right to share their political opinions you have a right to share yours

Here are a few tips to keep in mind in a political conversation that can help you limit the damage in your professional and personal lives”

  • Show respect towards others by being respectful of the other persons opinion.  You may not like their opinion, in fact it might make you sick to your stomach, but they have as much right to their opinion as you do to yours.
  • Stick to facts as much as possible.  Defend your opinion with facts you can prove.
  • Do not make any personal attacks.  Do not attack either the person who is speaking or the candidate or issue they are supporting by resorting to name calling or insults.  Remember, respect?
  • Never forgot what is most important to you.  It should be your relationship with that friend, lover, family member, co-worker or client/customer.   Do not do or say anything that will destroy that relationship.  Politics come and go in cycles but a good relationship with someone can last a lifetime and it should be more important than politics.

Remember these 3 things:

It is okay to share a different opinion in a political debate.  It is also okay to share that opinion.  Be sure that when you do speak, you speak without anger or hostility, you do not ever want to say anything out of anger towards another person.  When you do, you may be putting an unnecessary road back between you and success.

If all else fails you can say something like, “although I disagree with your views, I respect your right to speak them” then try to change the subject.  If that does not work, either excuse yourself from the conversation or sit there and remind yourself that they have a right to their opinion.

Although you may believe that if someone shares his or her political views with you, then they are open to hearing yours even if it is different then theirs.  That is not always true.  (I know, I have had family stop talking to me after they shared their political opinions and I politely responded with my views.) 

If you either avoid political conversations or are respectful of others during such conversation and they still take offense to you, then you do not need those kinds of people in your life.