How to stay friends with someone with opposing political views

Not talking about politics won’t work

Photo by kevin laminto on Unsplash

I have a dear, dear, dear friend whose views about politics I totally disagree with. The interesting thing is that when we get together and we start talking, he brings politics up. Almost every time he does that. Not once have we had a fight or gotten into a heated exchange because of his views. Yet, he knows my position and he is aware of what I think of his views. This article is more like a lesson in human behavior.

When someone who you can call your friend brings up a political issue, arguing a case that they know you could be against, think of it as a test of personality. This is not about politics, rather it’s about the two of you. You ought to ask yourself serious questions, despite the views of this person, is the friendship worth it? This is because if you are going to keep the friendship, you’re going to have to give up winning the argument. Now, with that settled in your mind (i.e. choosing the friendship over the argument win), you now make up your mind for a truce. Losing the argument is just as horrible as winning it. This is because if you lose, your friend will get the impression that the argument has won you over to the other side. There’s nothing wrong with being won over, the problem is the way it was done. Also, you don’t want to be the one bitter against your friend because you were flawed in an argument. So, you are going to argue; you are not going to win and at the same time you are not going to lose.

What about just refusing to talk about it? That could work in a few cases, but most of the time, it doesn’t. If the friend is really a friend, whether you like it or not, you will be dragged in. And also, if you are the friend that starts up such talk, there is something to pay attention to. Never try to change a person’s mind or force a friend into agreement. Always leave the friend to discover at their own pace. You can drop the facts, but you must understand that the best way to convince someone is to convince the person that he convinced himself. Let people convince themselves. To make conclusions for others is to rob them of the human right of their own opinion. With that said, we can go forward.

Now, with the aim of a truce, you need to respond. First, never take it personal. Even if they take it personal and muscular, never take it that way. You don’t need to take it personal for you to express passion. You can express passion in a cool, calm way. Putting yourself in a relaxed position is very helpful. Maybe when your friend starts with the argument, you just get yourself a cool drink and sip as you listen. You don’t have to look sarcastic or unconcerned. In fact, all through the sipping, you may never break eye contact. Also, listen well to your friend. Nothing hurts more than pouring your mind to a friend and the friend is not listening (even if it’s in the area of politics). When you listen, pick points of agreement and points of disagreement and just keep that at the back of your mind. Then you wait till you can talk. Some can ramble for so long, NEVER CUT IN. When you feel it’s time to say something and they’re not stopping, just raise your hand or gesture in a way that you have something to say. After a while, they’ll stop and allow you to talk. Personally, I like to start with, ‘can I talk now?

You begin by highlighting a point they made that you agree with. Then you follow it up with a related area of disagreement. Many times, both sides of the political sphere want the same thing (as in, solution), but the methods create the divide. The best way to express your disagreement is in form of a thought-provoking question. “Yes I agree xyz should be abc, but if 123 has not worked so far why are we against 456?” The friend will most likely want to cut in here, but you have to keep going. The friend must make you land and wait for their turn to speak. Every one of your disagreements should be expressed this way; first with the point of agreement and then quickly followed with the thought-provoking question of disagreement. After about 3 points done this way, then you round up with the punchline for a truce.

The punchline for a truce is a statement that admits that you could be wrong and your friend too could be wrong. And then you express the fact that trying to win arguments between yourselves is pointless and also that none of you is going to agree to be convinced by the other. You must make the friend understand that you can only challenge each other to learn more, understand more and become more informed. Anything more than that would just cause you to be fighting over people that (most likely) buy drinks for each other when they meet. It’s good to be ideological, but it is plain stupid to be an annoying humming bee because of it. State the facts, but let the other person go and find out the rest and convince themselves (if they will).

There are cases where the argument is just too intense and you perhaps do not have the points to counter. But you strongly disagree with your friend. I find myself in this position too. What do I do? Easy! Listen and listen well. Before they go far, start asking factual questions. Questions like; who said what, exactly where a report was read, what exactly was said, in what context was a particular expression made, etc. In this way, you will not hurt the ego of your friend and at the same time, you show yourself as someone who has to see the full picture the way it is exactly to be convinced. And that is how we should all be. We shouldn’t be the person who swallows what is presented; hook, line, sinker, the fisherman, his boots, the entire boat. Even news channels have been found to be a perverter of facts these days. This is not good, but what can we do?

One of the best advice to give a young one in today’s world is DYOR. It’s a term from the crypto world. It means Do Your Own Research. This is the age of DYOR. When having an argument with a friend (whose friendship is worth it), remember DYOR. If the argument gets too intense, bring the personal lives of the political figures and your own personal lives into the discussion. The political figures are living their dream, why should you and your friend run yourselves down because of them. If it’s about social issues, remind your friend that life goes on whichever side gets their way. This is so important especially when you are winning the argument. It is sweeter when you give up winning than when it seems you ran away from loosing. If you see from the onset that it’s an issue you don’t have the facts to question their views; just turn to a listener rather than a co-debater. Use phrases like;

“Wow, really? But why is it that xyz is still pqr?”

“Interesting, where did you get that information though?”

“Hmmm, are you really sure of that because I have heard otherwise?”

After a while of that, you should put the friend in a corner soon enough. And then when you sense that they’re in a corner, you take the conversation away. Put out the truce punchline and change the subject. You can do that over and over and over again. After a while, the friend should be tired of talking politics to you.

My friend still talks about politics. He has a very political stance on Twitter (which I stay very away from). NEVER GET INTO A POLITICAL ARGUMENT WITH A FRIEND ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Only do face-to-face (and possibly one-on-one) with friends. It’s still okay if it’s a messaging app. But never attempt an argument on social media. Back to my friend, he rarely talks politics with me now. He occasionally does but I have more important things to converse about (than to start analyzing the political moves of someone I don’t know who doesn’t know me). More important things like how we are going to make a million dollars this year.

I hope you’ve learned something. Cheers!

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