Are you avoiding your parents because you don’t want to talk Trump versus Hillary?
Have you taken yourself off Facebook because you can’t stand to see your friend’s posts?
Are you worried that your best-friend is becoming your worst enemy?
I have a solution.
Here are 4 steps for surviving the remainder of this political election without forever damaging your relationships.
STEP ONE: Set aside your Ego
When our political banter turns ugly, it’s like we become another human being. We lose sight of our values and our ego takes over.
We become argumentative and combative. We make up stories. We stretch the truth so that we can prove our point. We get so stuck in being right, that we forget that the person across the table is someone we care about.
It becomes our ego versus their ego, and neither person is willing to let go until their ego wins.
Agree to disagree.
The easiest way to do this is to play the question game. The game rules are simple: You can only ask questions. You cannot state a fact, your opinion, or make any other commentary. If you do, you lose. (See Step 4).
STEP TWO: Set an intention
Be intentional about who you want to be in each situation or with each person.
Make a choice.
Do you want to be combative? Do you want to be friendly? Do you want to be defensive? Do you want to be open-minded? Do you want to be argumentative? Do you want to be impartial?
Obviously, some of those intentions will get nasty, while others will open the door to connection and conversation. Which one will you choose?
And when you stray off course, which you will, remember your intention and reset.
The easiest way to reset is to find yourself an intention buddy. Tell the person sitting next to you what your intention is, and when they observe you straying off course, have them tap you, pinch your, or even kick if you if need be. (My husband does this to me all the time when I get overly passionate about a topic.)
Another way is to create a reminder in your phone of what your intention is. When your phone pings or beeps or whatever, you will remember your intention and reset automatically.
STEP THREE: Actively listen.
You know how when someone talks, the voice inside your head starts forming a response before they even finish?
It’s even worse when you don’t agree with the person speaking. Your mind is already whirling with rebuttals, so you can spring into action as soon as they close their mouth. (Or you interrupt because you just can’t wait that long.)
Instead, stop that voice and listen. Truly Listen.
Active listeners show they are engaged with their facial expressions and their body language, as well as with small nods and “uh-huhs.” They also summarize or parrot back what the speaker just said. They also ask questions. (Back to step 1 and on to 4)
STEP FOUR: Get Curious
The best way to open up dialogue is to get curious. Quit judging and critiquing their position (and their character) and ask questions.
Find out more about their fears and desires. Find out what really matters to them.
It’s best to avoid “Why” questions because their is usually a note of judgement in them. Instead focus on “How” and “What.” Some examples could be:
- What it is about _______ that you find so compelling?
- What do you value most about _________?
- If you could pick the characteristics of the next president, what would be your top 5 strengths?
- What are you most afraid of if __________ wins?
In the end, you might learn something.
Hell, you might actually agree on something.
Even if you think the other candidate is crazy, at the end of the day, we're not electing a new dictator, but a new democratic president.
Is it really worth ruining your dinner party, or your relationship?