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How to Talk to People Who Do Not Share Your Politics

If one tweet were to sum up this year’s political season—but really, why limit it to one tweet—I think it would be this one, especially for young people.

I don’t know about you all, but this is my first opportunity to vote for president and wow…what a time to be alive. At some point, I’d like to postulate around the time of the convention, this race moved from presidential policy to candidate likability (with the exception of the policy-oriented platforms that the Libertarians and the Green Party are running on). But candidates aside, there are a lot of moving pieces with regard to policy, so how can we, as intellectual students, have meaningful conversations with those who do not share in our politics? Here are a couple of tricks to avoid screaming matches (no guarantee against arguments though).

1. Ask questions.

Why does this person think what they do? Which aspect of a party’s platform resonates with them? What flaws do they see? How would the ascension of one party or another affect their daily life? What about the lives of everyone around them? Bonus: if you ask the right questions, you can get them to see your side.

2. Be patient.

This means not interrupting. Yes, you may not agree, but that doesn’t always mean that the other person is wrong. If you are not patient or seem like you are not listening or do not care about their answers to your questions, why even try and engage in political conversations?

3. Be respectful.

This goes off of being patient, but respect is equally important, especially if you do not wish to dissolve the conversation, which can happen quickly. Little things like opening your side with “I can see how you think that but…” shows that you recognize their opinion as an opinion, even though you do not hold it.

4. Use Siri if you wish to fact-check.

Even in non-political conversations, Siri is a great way to fact-check since, instead of removing yourself temporarily from the conversation, you can bring your phone in as a third party member of the discussion. And, if your facts are correct, bonus points for you.

5. Make sure you know what you’re talking about.

Lastly, if you can come forward with an informed opinion from a reliable source, you are not just better off in life, but also in your conversation with this person. Let them fact-check you and be shocked.

Now make sure you are registered to vote, since if you don’t vote, your opinion on all of this doesn’t matter anymore.

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Josephine is a senior English major from Massachusetts. She is the Marketing and Publicity Director for Her Campus at Davidson, a member of Connor House, and runs the Instagram account @cheeeesefries in her free time.
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