Have you been to a gathering lately where you didn't dare mention who you were voting for? Have you scrubbed your Facebook page of any political mention because the deluge was just too much?
Advice columnist Amy Dickinson joined The Daily Circuit Friday to discuss ways to hold civil, yet spirited, conversation.
"I just love political discourse, but I think the inability to engage in it in a polite and productive manner makes our nation more polarized than less," said Kate, a caller from Plymouth.
As you're spending time with friends and family members, political differences can become exacerbated and cause conflicts. How do you handle those differences when discussion gets heated?
If you're uncomfortable, bring up a related topic you can all agree on. For Dickinson, her go-to topic is the media. "This is my way of sort of going there, but not going there," she said. "This is my way of sort of engaging, but not being partisan and not talking about something that makes me uncomfortable."
Remember that everyone has the right to support the candidate of their choice. "If somebody puts up a yard sign, they're basically inviting a conversation," Dickinson said. But it's important to go into that conversation remembering the person might not be supporting a candidate based on a candidate's view you are strongly against. Craft your beliefs before you engage.
The workplace is not an appropriate place for political conversations. "I think it's completely fine to say, 'Hey guys, I don't even know you. Can't we talk about something more neutral?'" Dickinson said. "We're all excited; everyone's talking about this everywhere you go. But there are topics that are completely inappropriate for the workplace partly because you're there to work. You're distracted, people get excited, enflamed. You're not doing your job."
Be a good listener. "Most people are reasonable when they bring up a point, whether they are Republican or Democrat," said John, a caller from Stillwater. "I tend to listen and agree and then bring up the other point and say, 'Here's the other side of that issue.'"
Be careful when you respond to political emails from friends and family. On the blog, Allison said she receives a lot of emails from her father that go against her political views:
Rather than be reactive, I think about what questions it raises in my mind and then pose these questions in response: What is the source of this information? Where is this allegation documented? Has it been fact checked? Which 'side' of the argument is served by broadcasting this e-mail and does that cast doubt on its veracity? I get to state my position without being oppositional. I rarely get any feedback. But my fantasy is that at least one person is thinking, "Oh, that's a good point. Maybe this e-mail isn't true.
Avoid attacks. From Joe on the blog:
Avoid attacks on the person themself (ad hominem - i.e. "you're stupid") or attacks at what they say in itself (ad argumentum ipsum - i.e. "that's just stupid"). Instread, draw out & engage the points raised - the premises - not the conclusion. People can appreciate disagreements much more on specific points as opposed to general policy packages. Try to get down to the specifics, and challenge the others to parse out their generalities.
Do you have a story about talking politics with family, colleagues? Comment on the blog.
MPR News' Kerri Miller contributed to this report.