- A long time ago, Emily Post, a self-appointed arbiter of etiquette gave some classic advice: “Never discuss politics or religion over dinner in polite company.”
Sounds great to me. However, in the days of phones and social media, discussions go far beyond dinner—they are right there in your psyche, 24/7. People are sharing their political views on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Instagram, TikTok, and Liker, to name a few. And it’s unavoidable in these modern times.
In some ways, it’s great that people can bond over shared beliefs. Others don’t have to agree. They don’t have to follow platforms they disagree with. Simple as that, right? But it’s not so easy. Some seem to be on a mission to endlessly harass those who are of a different political mindset.
These types of people lack self-control and are losing not only friends, but also coming between family. No matter how strongly you feel about your beliefs, this type of behavior is immature. Letting politics rule your life is not cool. It’s also not healthy to make everything all about you.
A Friendship Born of Respect and Love
In my book, Be Extraordinary: 10 Ways to Become Your Own Hero, I speak about the odd friendship of Supreme Court justices Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The famously conservative Scalia opposed the court’s recognition of gay and lesbian rights. Meanwhile, the liberal-leaning Ginsburg was the first justice to preside over a same-sex marriage. Their views couldn’t have been more different.
Despite their opposing philosophies, Scalia and Ginsburg established a highly bonded friendship. They shared a love of the law and opera, made each other laugh, and even traveled to India together.
Amazing, right? Not really. Little me also has friends who believe different than I do—and we get along great! Why? Because we don’t fight over politics!
Here are the three main reasons I feel I am able to keep friends in my life who have opposing views:
- Don’t talk about politics. That’s truly the best way to handle it. There are tons of other things great friends can bond over: music, food, travel, books, pets, hobbies, career, dreams, and so on.
- Discuss, don’t debate. We can’t deny being passionate about the candidates and issues we support. But we can be polite about it, know when to agree to disagree, and when to move on. We don’t always have to win, but we can learn from each other during respectful discussions over a glass of wine.
- Absolutely no name calling. Don’t call someone “stupid” or demand they “wake up” because they think different than you. Name calling doesn’t make you look superior; it makes you look like a jerk. Speak to all people with respect, otherwise you risk losing a good person in your life.
The thing to remember is that a friendship is not a valued friendship if it’s one person doing all the preaching and the other doing all the listening. If you find yourself constantly pushing your views in the faces of others to the point where they no longer want to be in your company, you’re obsessed with politics and need to rethink your ways.