The political landscape of 2023 has been incredibly contentious, to say the least. It has forced us, as a nation, to have conversations about difficult topics, take sides, and frequently butt heads with others. Maybe you have noticed that sharing opinions and information is more intense than ever.
How can we safeguard our friendships and bonds with family from political disagreements? Our licensed mental health counselors and psychologists in Tampa want to share some thoughts about this very important topic.
The Party Defense
Unfortunately, too many political discussions drift toward the unreasonable. Often, these discussions center around defending one’s political party and disparaging anyone who opposes it. This frequently makes it impossible to have a constructive and levelheaded conversation.
As you can imagine and have probably witnessed, politics can bring out the worst in people. According to political scientists Shanto Iyengar of Stanford University and Sean Westwood of Princeton University, this is quite common and known as the “outparty animus.” As prevalent as it is, it’s still a difficult pill to swallow when it affects your relationships with friends and family.
If you find yourself in a political conversation where the other person is steadily pressing their opinion on you, it may be a good idea to change the topic. Especially if it is hard to agree on neutral or common ground.
However, if the topic is unavoidable, remember that a decent and civil conversation is still possible! Explore different views on the issue and find talking points where you see eye-to-eye. A wise college student recently shared with me that when people have significant differences and conversations get heated, the goal can be to “agree to understand” instead of agreeing to disagree.
Find the Positives
According to Can Friendships Be Bipartisan?, a 2011 Boston College study, many liberals and conservatives are at ease with bipartisanship amongst friends. A circle of friends with different opinions can bring new and intriguing ideas to the table. Embrace the opportunity to challenge your thinking, and how better can this be than being surrounded by the safe environment of friends?
Today’s politics are complex and oftentimes ugly, but relationships with family and friends are too valuable to allow politics to derail them. After all, do you value your political opinion more than your friendships or your relationship with a sibling or great-uncle? Rice Psychology Group can help guide you in finding common ground with those closest to you in an effective way. Have questions? Reach out to our licensed mental health counselors and psychologists in Tampa today.