How to Have a Respectful Conversation About Politics


Markus Spiske

a person holding up a sign that reads “fight today for a better tomorrow”.

Due to the upcoming election and opposing political parties, the nation could not be more divided. Whether you are voting for the left or the right side, talking about politics in a respectful manner should not be difficult. Because the nation is so divided, it seems like an almost impossible task. 

Step 1: Decide if this person is someone who will be equally as respectful as you. If this is someone you have argued or debated with before and it did not go well, chances are this conversation will not either. What would be the point of an angry conversation you already know the outcome of?

A factor to consider, however, is if you have never met this person you are having a conversation with, your job is to decide if this conversation as a whole is even worth it. One question that might help you decide that is: If your conversation partner has differing views than you, will that affect the relationship? And if that answer is no, it’s best not to have that conversation. This is because if you already know, no matter their political views, you are going to be their friend, why would you need to talk about something you don’t necessarily agree on and cause conflict? If you think their views are offensive, unfair or maybe too opposite from yours, you may need to walk away from that conversation and that friendship.

Step 2: Let each other talk. There is nothing worse in an argument than when your conversation partner will not stop proving their side and not letting you talk. If you are talking to someone who is like this, walk away from the conversation and put the energy you had into something positive.

Step 3: Don’t try to change someone’s views; try to understand why they think the way they do. Behind every decision we make, there is a reason. There is a reason why people may vote for the left or the right. The best way to have a respectful conversation is to get perspective. If you try to see someone’s perspective, it may be easier to understand why they are voting the way they are. This doesn’t mean you have to agree, but it may make your conversation partner’s decisions seem more logical.

Step 4: Stay away from broad accusations. After getting some perspective in step 2, your conversation partner’s decision may seem more logical. However, this does not mean that you can make assumptions about them. For example, just because someone may vote for Joe Biden does not mean they agree with everything he says or stands for. Remember that there are only two options for this election, and neither is perfect.

Hopefully, by following these steps you can have better and more fulfilling conversations with those on the opposing political side. Remember that no matter which end of the political spectrum you are on or how heated it gets, be respectful. It goes a long way.