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5 Ways to Keep Your Friends AND Talk Politics

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There’s no escaping it.political-ad-spend_0

Politics.

Politics. Sex. Religion. Three topics you should avoid in conversation.

I agree that is wise advice. Especially in a professional setting.

I will also acknowledge that in our overly connected, always-a-social-media-platform-to-express-ourselves-world, politics, sex and religion are topics of discussion and posts.

With months of primary elections taking us through summer’s end, followed by the general election in November, not a single news or media outlet will let us forget the story that gets top billing. I’m thankful that the primary news is the current circus of a presidential election in a democratic nation where we vote for our elected officials. I’ll take that subject any day over acts of terrorism and tragedy.  On the other hand… enough already! Too many political discussions, debates and post-debate, post-rally, post-news appearance analysis!

Citizens question the lack of civility in the political arena as demonstrated primarily by politicians and overzealous supporters.

A survey of 150 Human Resources Executives conducted in March 2016 by Challenger, Gray and Christmas is enlightening….and surprising. According to respondents, 94% have observed political discussions taking place in the workplace. The survey also states, “workplace discussions on the topic remain civil, with 63.6 percent of human resource executives describing the interactions as mostly congenial and respectful. The remaining 36.4 percent define the political discussions they have witnessed as passionate, but still respectful. Zero human resources executives reported heated or disrespectful workplace debates, unlike among the presidential candidates themselves.”

While we can’t control the actions and words of politicians and the media that loves them, we are 100% in control of our interactions when it comes to voicing our thoughts and differences in opinion.

If you want to keep peace AND talk political shop, here are a few guidelines:

Tread lightly when talking politics. You work hard to establish your reputation and your relationships. Others knowing your political affiliation may not play well for you. Business clients may not appreciate your leanings. This could hurt your bottom line and your friendships.

Know thy audience. One of the keys to successful speaking & general conversation is knowing your audience. Before you make a comment, ask yourself if you really know who you are speaking with and if your political comment could possibly offend the other person. If there is even a 1% chance of it happening, just say “NO!”

Before you post your political rant on social media or share another’s political post, STOP. STOP. STOP.  Ask yourself three times if you feel 100% comfortable that the post reflects you and your personal brand. Are you prepared to handle any disagreements, hurt feelings, repercussions and negative comments that may follow?

Approach political chit-chat with levity and curiosity. Don’t grandstand. Don’t be confrontational. You are not right. They are not wrong. Ask questions “What are the issues most important to you this election? How does your candidate represent those issues?” And then listen. Don’t argue. Just listen. Ask more questions. One of my favorite Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits is “Seek first to understand, not be understood.” Maybe you can learn something by hearing the other side of the issue.

Keep calm and remain civil. Always. Respect yourself and respect the other person’s opinion EVEN WHEN it is different than yours. If you can’t take the heat, stay out of the kitchen!  Do not approach political conversations thinking you are going to change the mind of the person you are talking to. They have their views. You have yours. Leave it there. If you are SO passionate about your candidate, it may be best for you to steer clear of political discussions, knowing that you’ll get too worked up. I’ve seen it happen; harming friendships and family relations past November of election year.

I hope you’ll find that several of these suggestions transcend political discussions. I’ve only skimmed the surface of this topic. What are your recommended do’s and don’ts when talking about this potentially explosive subject?  I’d love to hear from you!

Mind your Manners,

Kelly

5 Comments
  1. Thanks for sharing your terrific ideas, Kelly! As usual, you thought of something I had never considered.

  2. Thank you for your insights! How to survive this political season without losing any of my relationships is a real issue. This conversation is also helpful & complimentary to yours: http://bit.ly/293Ctv5

    • Kelly

      Thanks for sharing this vlog with Beth and Geri. i enjoyed watching it! We’re on the same page -especially about politics never being more important that our relationships.

  3. I really appreciate the advice that you listed here about how to keep calm and remain civil when dealing with friends who have different political views than you or even towards unbiased political news. My wife and I have a lot of friends who get upset on social media and we have to exercise a lot of patience in order to help them calm down. We never knew, however, that putting yourself in their shoes really helps you understand. Thanks again!

    • Kelly

      My pleasure Yilliang! I’m glad you found the tips helpful. Sounds like you and your wife have found an excellent way to manage the political exchanges.

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