Rules for Political Debates

Feeling down? In need of a pick me up? You’ve come to the right place! I’m about to talk POLITICS. Oh wait. Discussing politics doesn’t usually feel good.

I’ve been pretty busy lately starting a business and haven’t had much time to get into debates. I’m also just weary of it all. What’s with all the debating anyway? Why do we do it? Why do we share all the articles and all the memes? (Why am I writing this blog post?) I believe at the root of the ‘whys’ there is this. We want to change someone’s mind. We want to convince someone that they should stop believing what they believe and start believing what we believe.

The problem is it never works. It never works! I know this. You know this. But we keep doing it anyway. We argue that the other side has the facts all wrong. We present them with the real facts. We go back and forth this way, and the only thing that changes is how angry we are.

What I see happening is a whole lot of yelling and not a lot of listening. The less we feel we are being heard the louder we yell. Vicious cycle.

So what’s the solution? Should we stop discussing politics. I know I have often defaulted to silence. But I’m going to try something else for awhile. I’m going to try to build connection. Here is the formula that I will attempt:

  1. Listen. Actually listen and try to understand where this person is coming from. I don’t have to agree, but I do need to listen.
  2. Look for common ground and highlight the points I agree with.
  3. Speak my mind, but do it kindly. No name calling etc.
  4. Acknowledge the humanity in the person I disagree with. Make sure they know I see them for more than their political beliefs.
  5. Understand that even if I have the best of intentions, my comments may be met with defensiveness. It’s up to me to then diffuse the situation or end the discussion.
  6. Admit when I’m wrong.

If you catch me slipping up, call me out on it. I suspect I will have an easier time with conservatives than I will with my 4 year old, but you never know. I may need your help.

Photo Credit: The Purpose of Argument by jon collier is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0


2 thoughts on “Rules for Political Debates

  1. Several things, most of which aren’t related to the specifics of this post:
    1. I miss your blog!
    2. What business?? I’m excited for you, no matter what it is, but I’m also curious.
    3. How’s your mom?
    4. I have gotten pretty darn good at the “listening and looking for humanity” thing, because BOTH of my nearly-adult children are Trump supporters. Yes, I failed as a mother. But I’m being a remarkably patient listener. 🙂
    5. I will take my bizarrely conservative nearly adult children over a 4-year old any day. Good lord, 4 year olds are hard to handle!

    • Pahla!!! How I’ve missed you! Let’s see…

      2. Oh shoot! I meant to link that. I’ve actually been meaning to get in touch with you for potential collaboration. Run coaching for now, yoga soon to come and lots of other ideas over at
      3. It’s a mix. Just wrote about the latest actually on my business site. The post is titled ‘The Poignancy of Mindfulness’ if you’re interested.
      4. You have definitely NOT failed as a mother. OBVIOUSLY. Sounds like you raised them to think for themselves. I know plenty of beautiful people who also happen to be conservative.

      So good to hear from you!!!

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