Ready for midterm elections? With the current political climate, opinions and beliefs cannot be avoided even in casual conversation. In college especially, students encounter and engage with many kinds of people from all across the world. No matter your major, the classes you take or the clubs you join, you may encounter people with views that you don’t agree with. Keeping opinions to yourself can seem hard, and arguing with someone else about theirs can easily get out of hand. Especially now, with major issues dividing the country, coming together to try to understand opposing viewpoints has gained importance.
Check out these 5 steps on how to deal with different political views.
1. Don’t Assume
When giving your two cents on a topic, make sure not to assume what others will think or how they might react. If you start by presenting your opinions in a defensive manner, others may not want to listen. Try to state your case as an alternative, rather than an opposition. When we think in binaries, we only welcome contention.
2. Refrain from Attacking
When discussing politics—or any fragile topic—make sure not to antagonize opposing views. Talking to people with different viewpoints aims at the overall sharing of ideas. A negative attitude can change your polite statement into an accusing claim. No one wants to feel personally attacked for holding different opinions. Maintain a sense of respect and civility during your discussion.
3. Educate, but Don’t Condescend
College allows students to discover things about the world and themselves. With many different backgrounds and life experiences coming together in college, surely someone won’t come in the same knowledge that you do. Teaching people helps them grow, but make sure to keep it light. No one likes to be talked down to, especially when it comes from a peer.
4. Know When to Listen
Listening can greatly help keep a discussion from turning sour. People want their opinions not only heard but also valued. When listening to another person’s beliefs, let them know that you do not want to preach your own beliefs to them. Even if you disagree with what they say, listening gives you a chance to at least understand another perspective. At the very least, you can strengthen ways to support your own opinion by listening to others.
5. Know When to Walk Away
Whether debating in class or conversating with a friend, divisive topics can turn into unfriendly or even unsafe arguments. Stepping back or ending the conversation helps prevent tensions from running too high. Nothing good happens when we let our differences divide us, so take a breath and diffuse the situation.
Sometimes, walking away doesn’t help the feeling in your stomach when dealing with challenging topics. With the rise of social media, the surplus of divisive comments and negative news impacts our mood. In fact, a recent study showed that frequent exposure to violent news leads to emotionally distressed journalists. Social media negatively impacts more than just journalists, though. Everyone constantly consumes divisive and overwhelmingly distressing news stories.
Keep yourself sane by following self-care tips that’ll calm you down after an intense political conversation.
Dancing by yourself or with friends relaxes your muscles and elevates your mood. Put on your favorite jams and let loose. Letting the music flow through your body for a few moments helps you to feel present. This alleviates some of the existential dread that may creep up on you, putting a smile on your face.
2. Cook or Bake
Politics and news can make it feel as if we have no control over our lives. Take back control into your own hands with cooking or baking. Making a snack or meal not only takes your mind off stressful things but it also a serves as a task with a reward. Try something new by looking up a recipe of a cuisine unfamiliar to you or by taking on a challenging baking project. In the end, it doesn’t matter how your food looks. If you want to go a step further, cook for someone else.
3. Have a Random Conversation
Sometimes, talking about something kooky or random can cheer you up. Find someone with a similar interest to you, or pose a fun question to your friends. Think of something simple and take it seriously. For example, debate a friend about whether or not aliens are real. Investing yourself in something ultimately lighthearted relieves your stress and makes for a fun bonding time with a friend.