Chances are you’re friendly with a co-worker or family member with opposing political views. During an election year people are particularly prone to share their political views- especially on Facebook. If you’re friends with co-workers and family on Facebook, you’ve likely figured out their opinions on any number of political issues by now.
Many people share snappy one-liners and scathing retorts on their Facebook page that they wouldn’t say in a face-to-face conversation. Boasting political beliefs on Facebook can lead to stereotyping, heated arguments, and hate speech. Most people are more circumspect in face-to-face conversations, but political opinions still come up in conversation.
So what happens when you have to interact in person with someone who’s political views are very different than your own? What if you find that person’s opinions offensive or reprehensible? How do you look past the rhetoric to build a respectful and productive work or family relationship?
Here are some ideas to promote positive relationships with people who have opposing political opinions.
Don’t take the bait
Political issues are complex but all too often complicated issues are stripped down to catchy sound-bites intended to get a reaction- and get a reaction it does. Recognize that most political views shared on Facebook are intended to get a rise out of you.
When you are thoughtful in your response you control your emotional well-being. Remember, you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.
Don’t take it personally
Many political policies affect your day-to-day life but when someone shares a political opinion they are not intentionally trying to harm you. Hot button political issues are bigger than any individual.
Own your beliefs and opinions and let other people own theirs. While personal activism is important, you don’t have to challenge the beliefs of your co-workers and family. Stop taking it personally!
See the whole person
When someone shares an opposing viewpoint your opinion of that person may change drastically, but focusing on someone’s politics can make work and family relationships difficult.
Adjust your perspective to see the whole person. Their opinions are just part of who they are- no one is defined by their political views alone. No matter what their politics they are likely a good person with many awesome qualities! So are you! I challenge you to see the awesome in each other.
Focus on shared goals
Most of the time an individual’s politics are unrelated to your relationship with them. Stop putting politics before your relationships by focusing on shared goals. Find a common goal and work together to accomplish the task.
Agree to disagree
Everyone has their own opinion influenced by personal experiences, family, friends, education, culture, social status and more. Accept that someone else has been influenced by different factors than the ones that influenced you. No one is right or wrong in politics- people have different perspectives on complex issues. Foster respectful and productive relationships by simply agreeing to disagree.
Image courtesy of Abhi Ryan
I love your comments! Have you ever let politics affect your relationships? What other ways do you look past politics to create positive relationships?