[May 8, 2022] Navigating hot-button issues in the politicized environment that we live within today makes it difficult to discuss them, at least logically and professionally. Emotion rules. But, can we do anything about this problem?
There are several common ways to deal tactfully with hot-button subjects. It makes finding useful, fact-based decisions difficult to find when so many of our citizens are politicized, often radically so.
Two popular methods, recommended by Miss Manners and Ann Landers, is to politely tell the other person you do not wish to discuss the subject or learn how to change the subject. We should not be so naïve as to believe these methods will solve the real problem and that is why I do not recommend these approaches. Expect them to make the problem much worse and only harden their position. If you avoid discussing them today, you will face them tomorrow and they will be harder to debate.
Here are some tactics to consider when solving the problem of navigating hot button topics:
- Listen carefully to what others have to say, help them make their opposing case stronger. Hear them out, legitimately. They will admire you more for it.
- Show respect to the person and their ideas. It does not mean tolerating their viewpoint but they are still a person and deserve your respect. Do not see them as evil people with evil ideas.
- Don’t put their views ahead of your relationship with them. Help them separate their ideas from themselves as a person.
- Don’t try to educate them because they will see you as attempting to lecture them on their lack of faith, understanding, or morality.
- Choose your words carefully. Those who are full-on believers are not easily swayed by any argument. Emotion is what drives them, like a religious fervor.
- Control your emotions. Controlling your emotions, your instincts, is the hardest. If you disagree with someone strongly, our first instinct is to tell them they’re nuts. That’s a poor start to any conversation.
It does not matter the hot topic you are about to have. Whether it be politics, religion, sex/race, or art, the way to navigate the landmines you see in the road is not easy. Being tactful will probably not work. You will step on those emotional mines, so be prepared for it. If you are not especially attentive of the mindset of others, do not plan on convincing them of anything.
Some compare the discussion of politics, religion, sex/race, and art with true believers to wrestling with a pig. The pig loves it and you get dirty. You will not change their mind in this setting. Be honest and open about your beliefs, present a pleasant attitude, try to understand what the other person is saying, and always keep your behavior respectful.
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