Politics – To Discuss or Not to Discuss?

There are few topics with more of a fuse fired up and ready to go off than a political discussion. Especially now in such a volatile election year, when even members of the same party can’t seem to get along. Aristotle said it eons ago, “Man is by nature a political animal.” Well, the animals are out and they’re running amok!

So, how do you avoid talking about politics, who’s running for office, who’s right/who’s wrong, and who should be elected? Bury your head in the sand until all the politicking is over and done with? Nice try! Nope, just like the rest of us, you find a way to deal with it.

Not that there’s anything wrong with discussing politics; however, it can be such a hotbed of disagreement that many prefer to keep their political opinions to themselves – and would love it if others would as well. How can we achieve that? A few suggestions:

  • Learn the art of changing the subject. Yes, it is an art to skillfully shift the topic away from politics to something else. If at work, it’s a good rule to avoid politics entirely. However, in a casual, over-lunch situation the subject may rear its head. Introduce a new topic – plans for the weekend, kids’ activities, or the next meeting/project coming up.

If you have family members who just love to stir the pot, be forthright and say that you’d prefer not to get into a political discussion. If you get pushed, well you can always leave. If they’re guests in your home, set some house rules – no political discussions.

Find something positive going on to talk about. Goodness knows, there’s enough negativity in the nightly news, but some newscasts have started ending with a feel-good story for the evening.

  • Walk away – tactfully. If you stumble into a political discussion/debate (and don’t want to be there), remember that you need to be somewhere else, get busy on a project, or anything that lets you exit gracefully.
  • Headphones/earplugs – use them. Personally, I’m not a fan of listening to music or books while I work. However, typically no one bothers you if they see you have them on, so now might be a perfect time to pull them out. Having them on doesn’t mean you’re actually listening to anything, but it will likely keep you from being interrupted for a discussion of the latest debate.
  • Stand your ground. Some folks love a good argument (debate or whatever they like to call it). Or, some like to challenge an opposing viewpoint, just because. If pushed, you may just have to stand your ground and let it be known that you don’t discuss politics – period. That doesn’t mean that you don’t have an opinion or embrace a particular party, you just don’t talk about it.   And, that’s your right.
  • Agree to disagree. If you find yourself politically incompatible with a friend, co-worker, or spouse, what are you going to do? Sometimes agreeing to disagree is the best thing.

Voting is a right that more of our citizens should embrace, certainly. The right to vote is something that many people around the world don’t have; we owe it to ourselves and our families to exercise that right. So, whomever you plan to vote for, go vote. No matter how long the line, rain or shine, please take time to vote. Too many people fought and died for us to have this right as American citizens. As Abraham Lincoln stated, “The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”