How to Disagree About Politics Without Ending a Friendship

In an article for the New York Times, one woman said she threatened to end her 11-year marriage with her husband the night after Trump was elected. “The next morning, with tears in my eyes, I told Nishim that we would have to divorce because I would not be able to live with him for the next four years,” Debra Gaynor, the woman in question, told the New York Times. “He said, ‘Honey, we’re not going to get a divorce.” We just won’t talk about politics for the next four years. “

One answer is to avoid any discussion of politics for four years, but when dealing with a loved one whose political ideology is so far from your own, you can still disagree without having to contact a divorce lawyer. Friends are also difficult; you may decide to go your separate ways when you disagree so passionately about which candidate you support or which party you belong to.

Talking about politics when you both disagree is not easy, it will likely become personal and you will not be able to change someone else’s views. Just understand what you are getting yourself into and be sure to set your own boundaries.

Do not think that you will come to an understanding.

Before you start discussing politics with a friend who does not share your beliefs, first try to manage your expectations and do not expect their views to change. You must understand in advance that no amount of hard evidence can convince some people that their views are wrong or even remotely worthy of revision. From the conversation, understand your purpose, whether it’s to change their views or just hear their point of view, and act from there.

Of course, this does not mean that you should not try to educate them – by all means give them facts, links to published stories, etc. – but you will only become more frustrated if your goal is to change their views through the end. conversation. Expect that if their views change, it will take a long time (and even then the facts can only accomplish much). On the contrary, expect you to know something too, whether it’s true or false, and you can challenge it later.

Don’t make it personal and find the right setting

We’ll get it. When you’re dealing with someone whose opinion is so far removed from your own, it’s all too easy to get frustrated and want to resort to personal insults (or use casual swear words). Do not do this.

Using personal attacks can only darken that person’s ability to internalize whatever facts you express. “You don’t need to endorse someone else’s content that might be incompatible with your values, but you need to at least validate their ability to share their feelings and willingness to be open,” psychologist Weil Wright writes for Vox . … “This is how you move the conversation forward if it ends up disagreeing with their opinion.”

For example, if you are rooting for different Democratic presidential candidates, one way to do this is not to offend the candidates themselves, or you may risk your friend feeling personally offended. Instead, state your position on an issue on which you disagree with this candidate.

And find a suitable setting. Talking about politics in the office or at happy hour can have different consequences, so choose wisely. If you think the latter could trigger more alcohol and adrenaline-fueled personal attacks, then avoid it at all costs.

Understand your own boundaries

Of course, discussing politics with those who believe in ideologies opposed to your own is a fine line – and sometimes it might feel like it’s not worth the effort to start a tense conversation with little reward. “I have friends with whom I have a lot of arguments, even if we fundamentally disagree with each other,” writes u / clipot on a Reddit thread . “I have other strong-minded friends with whom I will never argue. I think it boils down to those who are interested in discussion and confident enough to defend their point of view, and those who are only interested in confirming their point of view and are afraid to defend it. “

But you also need to understand that when someone disagrees with you politically, you may not have to end the friendship, although sometimes you are better off. Everyone has a right to their boundaries, and you shouldn’t feel obligated to sacrifice yours in order to maintain a friendship. What exactly are the boundaries? Well, if your friend’s political views violate basic human rights, such as, say, the rights of illegal immigrants to freedom outside of detention centers , the right of LGBTQ employees to be protected from discrimination in the workplace, or a virtual disbelief in the existence of artificial climate change, then say your calmness and find your way out. (Here’s our guide on how to properly ditch a friend.)

As our video producer Joel suggests, when you need to get away quickly during a tense conversation about politics, just bring up what you think is ridiculous. “Can you believe this nonsense about [insert your topic of choice here]?” – he offers as a transition – and soon you will be given the opportunity to leave without saying a single word.


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