Religion and politics. Two topics that get people fiery and out of control. Two topics that have separated friends and caused countless bloodshed. Two topics that people avoid in order to not offend. I say that’s baloney! The reason why religion and politics are so volatile is because they are so vital. They shape our lives in a major way so it stands to reason that we need to learn how to have healthy conversations in these areas. So here are a few pointers on how to talk about politics and/or religion without being a jerk:
Ask questions. One of the biggest ways to enter into a more productive and engaging conversation is to ask questions. There are so many things that need clarifying. We live in the age of the sound bite and the commercial. The information that we encounter concerning our opponents opinion is scanty and oftentimes sensational. Asking questions helps clear the fog so we can see where people are truly coming from.
Assume the best. One added effect of getting our news and information in sensationalized bite size pieces is that it creates a caricature of those who disagree with us. Sometimes instead of talking to someone who is a democrat we see a “liberal left wing nut job” or instead of talking to a Christian we see a “conservative republican moron”. We reduce people into stereotypes and assume the worst. Instead let’s assume the best of people and recognize that they are not evil and may have good reason for taking the stance they take on issues.
Argue respectfully. No put downs. No insults. No straw men arguments. Think about it: None of these tactics are going to help sway their opinion. They are only useless medication for your insecure ego.
Agree to Disagree. At some point you will have to agree to disagree. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Don’t try to force your opinion on someone else. Imagine a world where everyone thought the same as you. Boring.
Aim for common ground. You may disagree but most of the time your goals are the same as the next person’s. After all, how many people are really out for the country to “go down the toilet” or for people to be “deceived by religion”. We all want the same things we just disagree on how to get there. When you find a point of the other person’s that you agree with. Affirm that. It goes a long way.
So that’s how you talk about religion and politics without being a jerk. Any other pointers you would like to add?