Hi everyone, it’s Leo, and after a three-month hiatus, I’m back with another political blog!
Today, in an attempt to prevent conflict in political discussions between students, I’ll cover the basics of what one can do to carry out an effective and respectful political debate.
It’s no mystery that, in spite of good intentions, politics can play a divisive role in our friendships. Regardless of where you stand politically, the possibility of losing a friend or companion over a difference in political opinion is an ever-growing possibility given our political sphere’s increasingly polarizing nature.
For any proponent of youth political discourse, an emphasis on effective and respectful communication skills is important, as it’s difficult to hold any sort of political discussion in an objectively fair and respectful manner with someone who, in your opinion, is wrong.
To aid in your journey to constructive political discourse, here’s some advice to keep in mind when holding a political debate:
It’s hard to hold back in a discussion when your opinion is stronger than your patience. As a victim of this trap myself, trust me when I say it’s not a positive or productive experience. If you’re yelling at the opposing side and they’re yelling at you, are you really getting anything out of the interaction? Probably not. Frankly, if everything you have to say is hateful, don’t say it. After all, silence can be just as effective as dialogue in itself. A classic head shake and an audible exhale will do just fine.
This one’s simple. Basically, it’s necessary that you’re well versed on the topic in question in a political debate. If you have to look up “Donald Trump bad healthcare” or “Elizabeth Warren healthcare bad,” for example, to make a point in your argument, you probably shouldn’t be having the discussion in the first place. Ultimately, the argument can only be effectual if both sides are knowledgeable enough to hold their own throughout the discussion. Choose your battles wisely!
Acknowledge the Other Side
It’s likely that at some point in a political discussion you’ll find yourself in a situation where the opposing argument is, at least in your opinion, completely invalid. Other times, the opposing argument can unexpectedly alter your opinion.
Regardless of the validity of the opposing side’s argument, and even if you wholeheartedly believe that your opinion is right, it’s important to, if not directly, passively acknowledge the other argument. If the opposing side views you as receptive to their opinion, it’s likely that they’ll be receptive to your case too — the basis of a persuasive argument.
Remember your Intentions
In some situations, you may feel compelled to take part in a political discussion out of intimidation or a feeling of responsibility. In other situations, you may be drawn to a political debate simply by way of personal satisfaction, enjoyment or interest. Whatever your intentions, keep them in mind throughout the discussion. Why take part in a serious discussion for no reason?
Bottom Line: Don’t let the Discussion Affect your Friendship
Ultimately, friendship is a force more powerful than politics. If a political argument with a friend becomes too heavy, it’s best to talk it out, have a laugh, and, if necessary, drop the conversation altogether.
Admittedly, it’s impossible to avoid every negative aspect of political discourse. Upon following the given steps carefully, though, conflict is far less likely to damage the bonds of an existing or prospective friendship.
Graphic provided by scientificamerican.com