We all know how challenging it can be to talk about politics with people from the “other camp.” But if we’re honest with ourselves, that’s probably because we want to impose our thinking on them, rather than understand where they’re coming from. And vice versa. Such a conversation only becomes an exercise in frustration, because nobody likes being manipulated.

Still, you may have had opportunities to notice…

When people ask us questions motivated by genuine curiosity, the very act of formulating a lucid answer to help them understand our perspective often spurs us to further clarify our own thinking. And vice versa. Before we know it, this kind of curiosity may spark a stimulating discussion that fosters new insights and ideas — in everyone involved.

So, the next time you talk politics with an “opponent,” take an inner step back and hang loose. We’re all on the same team, after all. We’re just human beings who want to survive, thrive, and pursue happiness. And, by the way, we usually achieve those goals by collaborating and getting along with other people.

Here are some friendly open-ended questions to ask that will help loosen up your political discussions. They are courtesy of Coffee Party USA, whose tagline is “incite civility and reason.”

  • How did you reach that conclusion?
  • How do you know you are right?
  • What facts are you relying on?
  • Can you share more about (fill in topic without giving your opinion)?

Be generous with your time, patience, and interest — for the sake of pure comprehension. Curiosity and attentive listening may open the door to new views. It allows the person who is answering to have all the space they need for a more thoughtful frame of mind. Political platitudes are guaranteed to dissipate, when an authentic exploration of ideas is underway.


Political discussions can be illuminating.

 

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