How To Have A Civil Political Discussion

John Wayne with his son Patrick.

Duke was a friend to numerous presidents and politicians, but his loyalty was always to the country over party. He wanted what was best for America and was never afraid to disagree with someone whose idea of progress was in conflict with what he felt was right. But just because you disagree with someone politically doesn’t mean you need to get into a shouting match every time you get together. Read below on how to talk about the elephant (or donkey) in the room without having to cut ties with those you care about.

 

1. ASSUME THE BEST

Being genuinely interested in listening to another point of view means keeping an open mind, particularly about the other person’s intentions. Treating the other person with respect goes a long way toward having a candid, fruitful exchange of ideas.

2. STUDY UP

It’s tough to have a political discussion without a basic understanding of what you’re talking about (though Lord knows plenty of people try), so give yourself a leg up on the average conversationalist by staying informed on the issues of the day. If the conversation starts to veer into territory you’re unsure of, there’s no shame in admitting you don’t know much about the subject. Save the B.S. for the pasture.

 

John Wayne with his sons Michael (left) and Patrick (right).

 

3. USE PROPER NAMES

Modern political discourse has burdened us with plenty of nicknames and short-hand descriptions for every political viewpoint under the sun, and almost none of them are constructive. Leave the name-calling for the playground.

4. BE ORIGINAL AND OPEN

Anyone can repeat talk radio highlights or parrot the opinions presented on their preferred cable network. Part of the reason we engage with difficult dialogue is not just to change someone’s mind, but to temper and hone our own beliefs. If all you’re doing is repeating someone else’s opinion you run the risk of lacking any of your own. If your opinions and beliefs seem in conflict with a well-reasoned argument, be open to the idea that you might, at least in this particular instance, be wrong. Think of the conversation as less of an argument and more of a discussion. You can’t win a discussion. And you won’t lose one either.

5. ALWAYS END WITH A HANDSHAKE

No matter how heated things get (and feel free to pull back from the conversation if they do) you should always endeavor to end your discussion with a handshake, hug or clap on the shoulder. It helps ensure there’s no bad blood. After all, if you know you have to hug it out in the end, you’re less likely to say something that’ll make that hug harder.

 

John Wayne shaking hands with former President Gerald Ford.

 

This post was derived from “The Official Handybook for Men” by James Ellis. For more handy tips, you can purchase the book from our online store.