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Tips for Talking Politics with Family and Friends

As the election approaches, polarization and political tension is at an all time high. People are impacted by the political context of their lives, no matter what political affiliation they identify with. 

Since political figures and government systems play such an important part in decision making for our country, it’s normal for people to have political preferences that reflect their values and beliefs.

Discussing these opinions can be an opportunity for collaboration, growth, mutual understanding, and curiosity.

However, opposing political opinions and views on policy and political candidates can be triggering, invalidating, & unproductive if they don’t communicate appropriately and hold space to understand the other’s perspective. This can leave people feeling defensive, gridlocked, and misunderstood in a perpetual cycle of biased perspective-taking.

In these conversations boundary setting is critical. 

Your feelings ARE valid.

As therapists, we encourage you to have conversations that are productive for you and your loved ones. Here are a few tips we suggest as Family therapists:

-the environment for that conversation is appropriate (timing, location, etc.)

-the intention behind the conversation is helpful to inform, discuss, or learn from one another.

-to look out for cognitive distortions (statements that are not based on fact that distort reality). You can learn more about cognitive distortions here.

-prevent gaslighting by remaining on topic and not discrediting that person’s lived experience and feelings

-acknowledge and understand the role of privilege & systemic injustice

-prevent critical, hostile language with the use of “i statements” and neutral tone

-express feelings in a healthy way

– establish healthy limits and boundaries for yourself

-ask nonjudgmental and open ended questions

-find common ground and shared values

-Control your tone to be sincere and curious

-Deescalate by breaking unproductive patterns: “Let’s take a break and cool down so that we can have this conversation at a better time.”

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