Talking to People With Different Political Views

Denitsa Raichkova/Contributing Writer

In the climate of a global pandemic, political division, and another impeachment trial, it is difficult for people to get shocked over the news. 

However, Disney’s decision to fire leading actress Gina Carano from “The Mandalorian” over her Republican views, shocked both Star Wars lovers and people who have never seen the movies. Were her social media posts truly controversial or are we too sensitive when encountering individuals with different political views? We should all pick up skills that help us talk to people with opposite political views.

Human nature dislikes contradictions. So, how do we deal with opposing political views? Florida International University is a place full of individuals from various backgrounds, political views, and personal beliefs. Learning how to talk to divergent people is a useful life skill. Relating to someone with whom we disagree politically is a challenge. 

When talking to someone who has different views than you, you should not demonize your opponent. They are human. Respond to the arguments presented by your opposer, do not debate the quality of their character. You are disagreeing over ideas. Attacking and antagonizing the person who holds these views is a logical fallacy. Instead, focus on lively dialogue and discussion of ideas, not on personal attacks. Dehumanizing the person, instead of addressing their political views, shifts the attention away from pressing issues. As a result, productive discourse is never possible and important conversations are never had. If we could peacefully exchange opinions, we could establish a common ground that would facilitate the problem-solving process.

The goal is to find common ground, not change their views. Morals and belief systems are tremendously difficult to change. Values are instilled in us through the process of socialization from early on. Family, peers, and community connections play a key role in shaping our worldview. Just because our identity is socially constructed, does not mean altering it is an easy task. When debating with a political opponent, remember that you cannot change their entire moral reasoning in one conversation. Instead, focus on finding common ground on key issues, recognizing the points you agree on, and ironing out misunderstandings over terminology. No matter how polar your opinions are, there must be an aspect that you both agree on. Once you find that common ground, construct solutions.

Using facts and information rather than emotion is important as well. Politics touches our lives in more ways than we can imagine. It is an umbrella term for how the social world is organized. The truth is politics matter; consequently, it is natural for people to get angry, defensive, and emotional. Sitting across an individual, who fails to agree with you on the economic structure or your constitutional liberties, is frustrating and nobody can remain dispassionate. However, digressing from feelings and sticking to facts and academically proven statistics is the correct approach during a political conversation. Intertwining emotion with reasoning weakens the argument. Remaining rational and utilizing facts helps get your point across without unnecessary confrontation. Furthermore, your opponent will be more inclined to accept a fact over illogical complaints. The problem with rampant emotions is that they deter parties from establishing common ground and steal the spotlight away from urgent issues. Staying cool during an interaction with a politically opposite individual gives you mental clarity and helps you bring out your best arguments.

Pick your battles. You do not have to show up to every argument you are invited to. Occasionally, peace is better than being right. You do not have to debate everyone on the opposite political aisle. Engage in a political conversation only when you believe it will be a productive one. If the conversation will leave you bitter and cause you to engage in impolite behavior, avoid it altogether. Moreover, if your opponent mistreats you or fails to consider your side of the argument, the conversation is going nowhere – walk away. No common ground is achieved in this manner. Find productive means. Instead of debating a stranger in the cafeteria over gun control, join a political organization or propose a policy to the Florida representatives. Use your voice – there are millions of ways to make it heard.

One political party cannot solve all issues. Contrasting opinions are beneficial for society, as they provide divergent approaches to the solution of common problems. Learning how to interact with people from different political backgrounds is part of becoming a mature global citizen. University is the perfect place to make atypical connections and get out of your comfort zone. ‘Canceling’ celebrities over their unconventional opinion is counterproductive and intolerant.

DISCLAIMER:

The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

Photo by Aaron Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

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