Be a Leader in Your Family When It Comes to Political Discourse
Like it or not, the one-year countdown to the next presidential election is right around the corner. Many of us are tempted to simply turn the television off and unplug the Internet. On the other hand, we could become leaders in terms of modeling how to engage the process with intelligence and grace.
While the people we encountered may be over the map politically, we all can understand and teach the importance of open minds, constructive conversation, and a willingness to learn. We live in a culture where too much of the “civil” has leaked out of civilization. [Tweet This] It is our opportunity as leaders to engineer a shift in the direction of positive discourse.
Here are some principles to keep in mind when talking politics with family, friends, work colleagues, and even those people we run into online.
- Listen to other points of view respectfully: Listening is not only polite, but it equips us to contribute positively to the conversation… and makes the other person more disposed toward listening to us.
- Ask open-ended questions: Be prepared to learn something in a conversation. Give the other person the opportunity to actually talk rather than fire off bullet points.
- Go to more than one news source for information: All reporting and opinion is slanted by the filter it is poured through. This is even true of news and opinion outlets who try their best to be fair. So our best bet is to tap a variety of sources.
- Avoid stereotyping: Stereotypes always steer us away from personal engagement. Learn rather than label.
- Share positives about your candidate rather than negatives about theirs: People genuinely want to learn why they should vote for your candidate. Trashing other points of view inevitably leads to closed minds, closed spirits, and closes down the conversation.
- Don’t parrot someone else’s conclusions: It’s important to make up our own minds; it’s the only basis for intelligent conversation.
- Remember that people you disagree with love America too: This is huge. We can disagree on the best course of action, but at the same time, respect one another’s commitment to America. Take a clue from the former presidents. They own a camaraderie and a mutual respect those of us who vote for them would do well to emulate.
How has listening helped you to communicate in a difficult conversation?