With elections wrapping up and Thanksgiving quickly approaching, there is bound to be political banter at the table. Political banner can get intense, but in a time like today, where the political divide is stronger than ever, talking politics at the table can corrupt relationships with family and friends. Here are four ways to stop politics from ruining your friendships.
Don’t Let Politics Rule Your Life
This isn’t to say don’t care about the policies or bills that are being discussed or soon to be carried out. This simply means don’t let those policies or bills be a factor in how you run your life. You have probably seen the following in a similar scenario on social media:
Person A takes a declarative stance regarding a policy or Politian. Person B from their friends list disagrees in a respectful way to maintain the relationship. Person A completely loses it and calls Person B all kinds of slurs before threatening to end their contact on social media. Person B tries to apologize for the misstep, but Person A has their mind made up.
Person A is allowing politics to conduct their lives and determine the conditions of their personal happiness. While being angry can lead to positive breakthroughs, using it inappropriately can push friends away. It’s okay to not agree on everything with someone. A strong component of tolerance and acceptance of others is understanding not everyone will think the way you do. Once you do that, it will be easier to do the following 3 steps.
Discuss Your Friends Behavior Offline
Even the scenario above was an online example. We can’t downplay the significance online plays in altering the behavior of others, however, we don’t have to let online destroy face to face communication. If you have a friend who is zealous about their political stance to the point of insulting any and everyone who disagrees with them, your best bet is to talk to them offline about their behavior.
Confronting a friend offline about their behavior online can help you and the friend come to an understanding. It’s difficult to see empathy online so having a face to face discussion will help you to talk to your friend and get them to understand how their words online could have been hurtful.
Don’t impose your ideology
If you are someone who is passionate about politics don’t impose your ideologies on your friends. A big reason why many relationships don’t survive political differences is because one partner feels the need to impose their own opinion on the other. Psychologist, Pulkit Sharma, explains, “The moment you start to forcefully shove your political ideology down your partner’s throat, it’s the beginning of the end of your relationship. Argue in a calm, playful manner. Never force your opinions,”
While Sharma was talking about intimate relationships, the same can be said about friendships as well. You can discuss political issues with your friends without calling them “tin foil hat wearing idiots” or something else that is equally insulting. Consider the fact that these are people you at a time had a lot in common in with. Communication is key when maintaining any relationship.
Accepting Your Friend’s Opposing Opinion
The best tool in strengthening a friendship is accepting the perceived flaws of others. It’s a fact we don’t see the world the same way. Someone may call themselves a Republican, but not agree with another Republican on certain policies. It is this difference that makes meeting new people interesting and what makes life unique and special.
When following politics, there will be instances where your candidate might lose. Where all the effort you put into backing a candidate to secure them a “W” turns in an “L”. While it would probably be easier to blame the friends who don’t agree with your ideology, a healthier approach is to do an Elsa and let it go.
There is nothing wrong with being passionate about politics. We all have something we are passionate about and want to share with the world. Unfortunately, the growing hostile political climate has assisted in a conflation with our identities as people and how we choose to live our lives as opposed to being merely a passionate interest. Severing friendships over disagreements can leave you without many friends at all or friends who have similar or even more rigid friendship requirements.
If you’re experiencing a friendship that is deteriorating as a result of politics and are seeking more guidance, Lifeworks can help. Lifeworks Counseling Center has grown to be one of the largest counseling and life coaching centers in the North Dallas area. Our licensed Psychologist and Professional Counselors offer a broad spectrum of expertise. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.