Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Four Small Steps for Saving Friendships

Mary Tillotson at The Federalist discusses four things we should all keep in mind as the election gets closer and our political conversations get more intense and perhaps more heated.

She opens by noting that,
1 in 14 Americans has apparently lost a friend over this election. While this year seems especially awful, 7 percent seems to be a fairly stable number of friendships fracturing during election years.

Somehow, only 70 percent of respondents say this year’s election has brought out the worst in people. Maybe that’s because fully 30 percent “feel that the harsh language used in politics today” is justified.

It’s unfortunate, because if there’s one thing we ought to be able to agree on, it’s that we could use a little more civility in our civic conversations. So here’s a guide I hope people on both sides of the aisle—and anywhere in between—can use to keep their conversations civil, their friendships intact, and, therefore, their country strong.
I list her four recommendations here with a brief note about each. She goes into more detail at the link:

1. Believe in the other person's good intentions: This, Tillotson states, is the first important principle of civility: believe in good intentions. Even when people are objectively wrong they probably have good intentions underlying their opinions. That doesn’t make them right, but it does make them worth respecting and listening to.

2. Keep an open mind and reject polarization: If you never honestly consider others’ opinions, Tillotson believes, your mind will shrink and become its own little echo chamber. Listen to your interlocutor. Plan to learn something. Put yourself in his or her shoes and consider a perspective you hadn’t thought about before. Maybe there is a valid concern that you weren’t aware of and is bringing you to different conclusions. That may be true vice versa, as well. Political issues are complicated, and different policies affect different people in different ways.

3. Remember your priorities: Consider whether your friendship or your political opinions are more important. Is your friend’s one vote going to change the course of American history? For that matter, is your friend likely to vote the way you vote after you’ve fallen out over politics? If anything, your friend is probably less likely to agree with you after a fight.

4. Keep it off Facebook: Social media probably isn't a good venue for having a productive political debate. In fact, because it's so public, it may be the worst venue if we're interested in persuading our friends and keeping them as friends.

Tillotson gives good advice. Check out the whole article at the link.