Does this sound familiar: You’re at a family barbeque. You may even like your family. Not that that’s strange but from all of the stories you hear nowadays, it’s pretty rare. You especially like your Uncle Steve. He’s funny, smart, compassionate and practical. Plus, he makes a mean rib sauce. The problem is that your discussions always seem to roll around to politics and, before you know it, you end up at each other’s throats. Every time you meet, you try to convince yourself to just avoid talking politics but then you end up feeling stifled or disingenuous. Plus, you know there’s so much you can learn from Uncle Steve, even when you don’t always, or often, agree.
Why is it that political discussions are often divisive? I guess that political view sit very close to the heart and/or mind and people often think that if you disagree with their political views, you disagree with them as individuals. I think, also, that most people’s political views are fairly well entrenched so any question about them results in an aggressive rebuttal..
The easy answer is to just avoid talking about politics. That’s an easy answer but not really a good one. Politics are very meaningful, they affect the way that we think and act as individuals, as communities and as nations. Additionally, if you are a growth oriented individual, you will want to be constantly learning. Limiting your topics of discussion will limit your exposure to new or differing ideas and you won’t hear objections to or penetrating questions about your own ideas. Finally, deep, meaningful conversations build stronger relationships and help us better understand our friends and families.
The goal of this series is to get to the root of why political discussions are so divisive, provide a framework for understanding the current american political landscape and give suggestions on how to use that framework to have more productive conversations and build better relationships.
In our next installment, we will dive deeper into the question of why political discussions are so divisive. Maybe you should send a link to your Uncle Steve, it’s a good thing we said nice things about him above!.