There was a reason why previous generations stayed away discussing politics openly and it’s because politics is personal. They saw discussing politics openly similarly to discussing sex openly; it’s inappropriate. Today, it’s the complete opposite. Everyone is eager to share their political perspectives with strangers on the internet and even in person. I’ve personally been in situations where people have thrown out their political opinions when it was unnecessary because it’s now seen as a virtue signal.
While our public political commentary has increased, we have actually decreased in our ability to effectively communicate with each other. Social media gives us the impression that we are more connected than ever before, but it’s actually the inverse. Technology has deadened our need to connect with someone before communicating, and we’ve turned complex individuals into simplistic text-bots.
Everyone has different objectives when they bring up politics. Some have the aim of simply debating you to measure their alleged expertise against yours. The people who are infatuated with debating are not actually trying to communicate with you, they’re trying to communicate at you. They’re dictating towards you and are disinterested in your replies unless it plays into their rebuttal, which they’ve been mentally manufacturing the entire time you’ve been speaking.
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The objective of a debater is to win or hypothetically score ego points over their opponent. If your objective is to have a legitimate discussion, as soon as you see the signs that this person is a ‘debater’, then immediately end your attempt for a conversation.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous article titled “Stop Engaging in Bad Faith Conversations with People”, the first step is to recognize that the person across from you wants to have a true discussion with you and does not believe you come with ill intent. Likewise, you also have to believe that the person across from you is also coming from a good place as well. If either of you see each other as their ‘opponent’, then a real discussion can never truly be had.
In this article, I wanted to expand further than the previous article about how to communicate properly with the two personality types: the emotional and the logical.
Since politics is personal, understand that politics is emotional. Many people hold their identity within their political position, so saying the wrong thing the wrong way can be triggering for some people, even if they initially have good faith. This does not matter what political affiliation someone is, but it’s more to do with someone’s personality type. If you know this person is overly emotional in their responses to other topics, chances are they will be this way with politics. If you know this person is stoic or logical in their responses, then you may have more leeway to speak freely.
Once you understand these distinct personality types, then you can figure out how you can make this conversation beneficial for both of you. Even though someone is emotional, it does not mean that they cannot communicate effectively with you, you just have to understand how to navigate around their emotions.
First, if their response sounds emotional, anecdotal or lacks data, understand that they are trying to convey their feelings and that their feelings help to dictate their political thoughts. This is not a judgement, this is just a reality for emotional people regardless of the topic. The best thing to do is acknowledge their feelings before responding. “I understand you believe…” or “I can see why you believe…” can be useful responses, but any sort of emotional acknowledgement helps to keep the situation stable.
Second, stay silent and listen to them. Emotional people especially hate when it appears as if their emotions are being ignored and having a reply ready in the chamber signals to them that you’re not listening and it gives the appearance that you’re ignoring them. By staying silent, you are allowing them the time to convey their thoughts and they will view your silence as a sign of emotional acknowledgement. This will keep the conversation going.
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The point is not only to initiate good faith at the beginning of the conversation, but throughout the entire conversation. If you continue this method, then they will be more open to hearing what you have to say. You can counter their emotions with data points, for example, because you’ve already acknowledged their emotions. Immediately hitting an emotional person with stats without the emotional acknowledgement will result in a pointless conversation.
Now, if you’re attempting to have a conversation with someone who tends to be less emotional and more logical, there is a completely different approach you should have with this discussion. Admittingly, I’m this type of person, so let me give you some insight on how to have a productive conversation with someone like myself.
First, understand that logical people aren’t completely emotionless and it’s not that we don’t care about the emotions of a particularly sensitive topic, it’s that we don’t tend to allow our emotions to supersede our logic. Emotional people misinterpret this as being ‘cold-hearted’ when it’s a simple misunderstanding about our thought process. We may actually agree on something, but we just come at it from a different angle than a more emotional person does.
If you are an emotional person and you want to convey your emotions, acknowledge their thought process and find the flaw in their logic. You can interject your emotional responses within the flaw to make it more understandable. Once you point out the flaw, you can give your anecdotal evidence as a reason why they may be incorrect. If you can get someone who is logical to see their flaw, then you can convince them to consider an alternative method.
Another effective way to highlight a flaw is by using realistic comparisons to the topic that you’re discussing. Giving someone logically sound a good comparison will get their mental-wheels turning and they’ll begin the process to question themselves. It’s much like planting a seed. Once the seed is planted, walk away and watch it grow in their brain.
Pointing out a flaw in a good faith effort is actually pleasurable for a logical-minded person. They want to consistently feel logically sound and if you point out a misstep, they will actually be glad that you did so, not offended.
While this article is in reference to politics, this is how you communicate properly with anyone of these personality types regardless of the situation. If you have a boss who is emotional, cutting them off to make your point will do you no favors. Let them get it all out, then you respond by acknowledging their emotions and then you can give your rebuttal.
I used to work in tech support and one thing I learned was that the people who immediately came on the line with over-the-top emotions simply wanted to vent. If you shut up, let them talk, acknowledge their feelings and ensured them you will resolve their problem, they will work with you, not against you. On the other hand, the people who were more logically sound that had a problem wanted results over emotional acknowledgement.
Understanding these two distinct personality types, the emotional & the logical, will increase your success with talking to anyone, especially if you want to have a productive conversation.