Everyone has an opinion these days. It seems like the age-old concept of politely avoiding conversations about sensitive topics (like politics and personal beliefs) has been thrown out the window. Chances are you’ve run into a negative, politically-fueled conversation at some point in your life. Now, in the wake of another presidential election in November, it’s more important than ever to know how to defuse a negative confrontation with someone you love.
Here are a few things you can do to master the art of handling negative conversations with grace while keeping your sanity…
Try To Talk In Person
For better or worse, social media has given people a convenient and widely-accessible platform to voice their opinions. Some people are very loud behind their screens - - we all know a person or two, right? When it comes to political conversations, try to have them in person.
One-on-one conversations can help eliminate distractions and misconceptions. Understanding someone’s tone is much easier to do in person. Remember to control your body language and make sure you are actively listening even if you don’t agree. If your mind is so busy shaping what you are going to say next, you aren't really listening.
Remember: People Can Be Stubborn
This is really an important concept to remember before you engage in a political conversation! You might not change someone’s mind. If that’s your goal then it’s best to opt out of the conversation entirely. An impassioned speech probably won’t change your 85-year-old grandmother’s political leanings.
Before you engage, think about what you’d like to gain from the conversation. Is it a new perspective? Are you trying to understand where the other person is coming from? Never make the goal of a politically-heated conversation be to change someone’s opposing view!
Know What To Say To Defuse The Conversation
Choosing your words wisely is an important part of defusing negativity. Think about what you say and how you say it. Stay focused on how you feel. Don’t attribute emotions to other people - that just adds fuel to the fire! Instead of saying , “You must be uncomfortable”, try “I’m feeling pretty uncomfortable.”
Here are a few helpful ways to keep the conversation going in a constructive manner:
“Thank you for your response, I appreciate your feedback.”
“What I heard you say was…”
“I wasn’t aware of this—tell me more!”
“What can we do to change the situation?”
Express How You Feel
“It’s important to stand up for what you believe. It’s equally important for you to express your feelings so you don’t suppress your emotions,” said Dr. Joshua Flatow, the lead psychiatrist at Pacific Mind Health. "Suppressing your emotions, whether it's frustration, sadness, or grief, can lead to physical stress on your body over time.”
Of course, even if you follow our advice, sometimes there just aren’t the right words to defuse a negative conversation. Remember that it’s OK to walk away if a constructive conversation isn’t possible.
We understand how challenging these times are for our community. Between social unrest, looming wildfires, a global pandemic, and an upcoming presidential election, it’s no wonder you might be feeling a little uneasy these days.
It’s OK to not be OK.
We’re here to walk with you through your struggles from the comfort of home with our telepsychiatry services.
You don’t have to push through another day feeling miserable. Even though times are tough, you deserve happiness! We’re here to help you find it…