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