It’s hard to talk to people who are angry or full of hatred. After this election, you might’ve flipped the table when your Aunt Shelby mentioned how great certain politicians will be for America. Or she might’ve flipped the table when you talked about the questions Elizabeth Warren posed to Betsy DeVos during her hearing, or, in the same hearing, that satisfying thud when Senator Murray dropped all the precedence down on the table.
It’s a tough time to breach these subjects with your friends and family. It can create a distance between you and them. Reconnecting with people who don’t agree with you, who have expressed anger or hatred for other human beings can be hard. Here are some tips for the journey of reconnection, and trying to have fun political talks again.
It’s even harder to convey your message in a calm and collected manner if the person you are talking to is yelling and full of rage, anger, and spit. If you can stay calm, you always win. Let them work it out, and come back with more points later. Plus, if they never stop yelling, stress and anger increase your blood pressure, so eventually, they’ll scream themselves to death. You are a calm old owl ready to help out your pals with information they might’ve missed, and getting some from them that you might have missed. You can fulfill your side of getting back to peaceful conversations at the very least. You can even start by talking about things you both agree on. Like, illegal immigration being bad for both illegal immigrants as workers, and the American worker.
For example: You may not know that through interdepartmental efforts, former President Obama deported the most illegal immigrants in U.S. history. Ninety-one percent of those deported in 2015, had previously committed a crime. Obama also eased the way to become an American citizen, meaning that many illegal immigrants could stop being illegal immigrants. That’s a pretty snazzy conversation starter for people who don’t want illegal immigrants AND people who want illegal immigrants to lead better lives, as a contributing member of our awesome society.
You Could Be Wrong-Listen a Little
You might be wrong. It’s a wild and crazy world out there. Getting more information from the other side can give you a little perspective on what is actually going on (or at least why they are so mad). They might be some missing information, or they could be upset by something that you didn’t even know was happening.
For example, for a good while, many people believed that Facebook was shutting down 2nd Amendment rights by deleting gun posts. That’s pretty upsetting, but Facebook is a private enterprise, so they can do what they want on their site (including limit speech). However, when you dig a little deeper into the matter, you find that Facebook deletes posts that are for the buying and selling of guns or ammo. “The ban applies to private, person-to-person sales of guns, but posts by licensed gun dealers are okay.” That sort of information can help you talk to someone about gun rights on their level. It’s surprising to find out that anyone was upset by this sort of thing. Listening to this sort of information (along with the trusty Google) can help you determine why this person was afraid the government was going to take away their guns and give you more insight into the issues facing them.
Or they might bring up an issue that you have yet to explore. For example, many conservatives believe that liberal excesses and high tax rates is what caused Detroit to crumble. Doing some digging may lead you to discover more about the tax escapees living the suburbs, racist housing laws, and what really takes corporations offshore. Taking in a little information can give you some perspective on an idea you never even thought of! Listen a little (but don’t take it at face-value, look it up!) and open up to other’s reality.
Good Things Might Happen
The best thing to talk about with your loved one who might disagree with you strongly is to find out where the common ground is. Do you guys both want your children to go to the best schools possible? And other people’s children? Do you think that all human being deserve a fair chance and a better quality of life if it can be afforded without affecting someone else’s? There might be common ground in there.
You might find yourself agreeing on a lot of basic facts, like, maybe you both want less American deaths, a higher quality of life for the American people, and a more prosperous future for all people. You might just disagree on how to get there. That’s how you know the conversation is heading in a positive, productive direction. Maybe they think that malls are the next American Main St., where as you see it they are a slowly rotting temple to American capitalism funded on oil-based-warfare. There are a plethora of ways to see it, but you can reach a consensus on what should be done with these slowing closing monoliths, like maintaining the livability of these spaces with micro-apartments. There can be good solutions out of disagreement, if you look for it and are willing to speak creatively.
Ask Away. Clarify. Ask More. Get to the Base
They might have a real reason to like something that makes you incredibly frustrated. There’s definitely something in their beliefs that you do not understand (or they might be missing a crucial piece of information!). Sit down and listen (and Google what they say) and listen again. There’s probably some information in there that you never thought much of. For example, loads of people loved Reagan, he’s a loveable figure head, but the quality of life for most people went down while he was in office. Maybe they liked how positive Reagan’s speeches were, or the comforting sound of his voice, or his deregulation of the banks, that make it easier for people with little or bad credit afford houses (which is still true today!!).
Take Your Own Time. Come Back to it.
Unless you are a super genius you’re probably not going to convert all of your friends and relatives in one go. It will definitely take a little time. But it is worth it if you want to talk to them about politics again.
Take some time, hide up in your she/he-cave, look at what they say, look at where their information is coming from, and try to understand why they think what they do. There’s normally a reason why they believe what they do, and while it may not be the most logical reason, (and yours might not be either) talking it out will help you understand them.
It’s hard to talk to friends and family members who spread messages of hate, or just believe in them. You can reach out to these people by listening to what they have to say, listening to where their concerns and ideas come from, and sharing information that is good for their individual set of issues. Listen to them first, take notes if you have to, and find out more about them before telling them they are wrong (which they might be).
Mary Grace is a freelance human based out the beautiful Boise, ID. She loves hiking, skiing, and human interactions. Comment down below or tweet her @marmygrace with any questions or suggestions. She’d love to hear from you.