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Alba Iulia
Saturday, May 1, 2021

How to talk politics without losing friends

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Samantha Bonney
Samantha Bonneyhttps://www.gatfoundation.org.au/
Sam Bonney is the founder of the Give-A-Textbook (GAT) Foundation which collects and donates books from Australia to the Philippines in order to help those that do not have access to sufficient academic literature. GAT Foundation repurposes used and new books to create social impact and support others in furthering their education, hence empowering the wider community. By rehoming books, we divert thousands from landfills by recycling them efficiently.

With the ongoing crisis around the world and locally, there are bound to be disagreements within families and friendships. I have witnessed this in recent times, especially during the nation’s political divides. As a result, many people who were never politically inclined, are all of a sudden heavily invested and even outwardly opinionated. If you find yourself trying to convince another person about politics, or frustrated and annoyed with your nearest and dearest about Melbourne’s lockdown measures, you’re not alone. 

More often than not, I see people offending others by either trying to convince their stance or for not respecting opposing views. This may have been unintendedly driven by emotions, but the lack of self-awareness in these situations can be offensive and downright nasty. The current happenings in the world have triggered societal outbursts, in line with the quote, “When people don’t know what is real and what is fake, when facts don’t matter, then the loudest megaphone gains more power,” says Maria Ressa, Rappler CEO. 

At this time, emotions are running high and feelings are more sensitive than ever; hence, you may find yourself shouting out of frustration and madness about the recent political happenings. It is advisable to keep a cool head when talking to someone with opposing ideas.

Be ready to accommodate other people’s points of view.

The ongoing student protests in the Philippines is one of the many discussions causing people to hold different opinions on impacting issues. These student activists have been denouncing the government’s decision to terminate legislation that banned the presence of military and police personnel on University of Philippines (UP) campuses. As a result, students are caught up in conflicts with governing bodies and even with their family members and friends. Sometimes, people are not willing to accept why you are protesting about a particular issue that you firmly believe in, which may cause long-lasting damage to relationships. You can hold on to your ideas without undermining others and by listening to other people’s opinions about the topic. 

Put yourself in the other person’s shoes to better understand where they are coming from.

Conversations are influenced by three factors – opinions, feelings, and relationships between the participants. Usually, when we feel passionate about issues, we tend to focus solely on our reasoning and ignore that of other people’s. However, when a discussion is centered only on opinions, with little to no attention paid to feelings and relationships, there’s a possibility that one party feels misunderstood or left out. A conversation is an exchange of ideas; hence, it is important to show interest in others by listening and observing what they have to say. People are mainly influenced by their surroundings and this usually determines their political ideas and societal beliefs. 

Also, to maintain healthy communication, it is best to watch your words and make sure they do not carry negative undertones that contradict literal meanings. For example, when a person says, “Yes, you know everything, I don’t”, they may not mean it, because it has a passive-aggressive undertone. 

Be prepared for negative reactions.

Not all negative reactions are bad; so be open to it. It is advisable to let out negative feelings, so they don’t build up inside and cause emotional or psychological harm. Many may think that people will never see eye to eye if they don’t agree, but it’s possible to hold opposing views and still try to understand why others feel the way they do. A valid way of keeping our emotions in check during conversations is to take note of some signals that our bodies send out such as: sudden shakes or sweating. These signals may suggest that your emotions are heightened and need to be checked immediately to prevent carrying out hurtful actions or saying words that may damage your relationship with the other party. 

It is advisable to always check in with our feelings and be in touch with our emotions. Also, keep it at the back of your mind that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule governing conversations, because people have different beliefs and orientations. Always remember that being rude or insulting doesn’t contribute to healthy and effective communication.

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