Navigating Hot-button Issues (Part 2)

[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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Don’t put their views ahead of your relationship with them. Help them separate their ideas from themselves as a person.
  4. Don’t try to educate them because they will see you as attempting to lecture them on their lack of faith, understanding, or morality.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.


Please read my new book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

29 thoughts on “Navigating Hot-button Issues (Part 2)

  1. Be Signalman

    Your series Gen. Satterfield was excellent. I enjoyed it all. Thank you. Keep the great advice coming our way. 👍

  2. Rich adams

    First time on this site. Just finished reading the Generals book. If everyone read it we would all be better people. One thing not mentioned here is the news media and how they put out such false news and things to dramatize everything a lot of hot topics are just because of the news media

    1. Dead Pool Guy

      Welcome Rich. Good to have you onboard. We hope to hear from you more often. This forum is a great place to bounce ideas around without undue criticism.

    1. Teressa

      Churches are being attacked and desecrated by crazies driven nuts by a draft SCOTUS decision.

  3. Wilson Cox

    Gen. Satterfield, I enjoyed both your articles on this topic. Still, the answers are not easy. But, I guess that is the point. Be brave, have courage. Stand up for good. And, know what an ethical good is.

  4. Frontier Man

    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. Yep, couldn’t have said it better.

    1. Jerome Smith

      Still this is not a reason not to confront what is wrong and evil. You have to stand up for what is the truth, and has always been the truth. Just because a snowflake has a brain fart, doesn’t mean I have to tolerate it.

      1. Cow Blue

        Always confront evil. Do not let it stand without a fight.

  5. The Northeast

    Gen. Satterfield, your series was spot-on. Thanks. More like this is okay. Bring on those hard, problem solving articles. The ideas you have here are tough to argue with. I too agree that ignoring the problem, is in itself a problem that only makes things worse over time.

  6. Karl J.

    “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.” Good observation from Gen. Satterfield.

    1. Doug Smith

      So very true. Especially trying to convince a college snowflake of anything. They are right, in their minds, and there is no changing their minds.

      1. Max Foster

        They’re going to have to learn the hard way that they are wrong. Getting smacked upside the head with reality will not convince them all. Too bad, they know they are wrong about abortion being a “right” and that is a “good” meaning morally good. I’m convinced this is the result of us taking religion out of our government and schools and attacks on our churches. No more moral teachings.

  7. Janna Faulkner

    HAPPY MOTHERS DAY to all our mothers out there. This is a very special day. If your mom is alive, call her, visit her, send her flowers, acknowledge that she is why you are here. Happy Mothers Day to my mom and to all mothers.

    1. Valkerie

      I’m with you on this one, Janna. Happy Mothers Day to mothers. ❤❤❤❤❤

      1. Dennis Mathes

        Smiles and hugs, joy and love… that’s what great moms are made of.

  8. Bernie

    For so many of these hot-button issues, I don’t think your #3 will work, “Don’t put their views ahead of your relationship with them. Help them separate their ideas from themselves as a person.” For abortion to a liberal it is a religious sacrament. Abortion is a natural right, so to speak and you will never convince them otherwise. They are too far into their religious state, that any act against their beliefs will be met with violence.

    1. KenFBrown

      Right, Bernie, they cannot make the separation and thus are personally tied to their views and nothing can separate them from their ideas.

  9. JT Patterson

    Excellent article today, Gen. Satterfield and on a problem we all have to deal with, often within our own family. That is what makes it difficult. However, I don’t think the big problems in our society are going to be worked out any time soon.

  10. Nick Lighthouse

    Great finish, Gen. Satterfield, to your two-part series on how to deal with hot-button issues. For those reading the forums today, you will note that Gen. S. recommends we deal with issues like this, not by ignoring the problem, but by tackling it head on and with grace.

    1. Tom Bushmaster

      Agreed! Yet, too many will simply look the other way.

      1. Yusaf from Texas

        Yes, Tom, but he have to STOP looking the other way and confront important issues even when it is an embarrassment to us and others we respect for their views.

        1. Laughing Monkey

          True enough, Yusaf. Don’t let embarrassment cause you not to fight for what is good and right.

    2. Mikka Solarno

      Yes Nick spot on comment. Gen. Satterfield, once again, has nailed it. Just another reason for coming to his website and reading about important issues that deal with both leadership and being a better person. Don’t miss out, read this site every day. And, don’t forget the forums.


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