Hey there AC,
My mom voted for Trump and I voted for Bernie Sanders. I want to talk about our different political opinions but we end up screaming at each other. Any suggestions on how to have a constructive discussion?
Hey there Peace Seeker,
First things first. You screamed at your mother!!??? Put me on record as saying that’s really a crappy thing to do.
Okay, let me try to figure out what’s going on with your situation. First, you’re not setting out to hurt or alienate dear mom, right? And, you want to help, protect or enlighten Mom with the benefits of your “different political opinions,” right? So, what now? You say to yourself – “What’s the best way to help Mom understand my point of view?” And what you came up with was… “Scream! I’ll scream my opinions at her over and over; Trump bad! Bernie good! Trump bad! – Bernie good! Mom screams back Bernie bad!, Trump good!" And now, Peace Seeker, you have a screaming standoff.
What did you expect to achieve by screaming? Did you think she’d happily forsake her own beliefs, and opinions after being bombarded by your tirade? Did you think she’d blissfully begin crafting clever protest signs with you and head off to the nearest rally? If that’s how you saw it working out, I gotta tell ya’ Peace Seeker, I don’t see that ever happening. Look, she’s not hearing you no matter how loud you scream, and you’re not hearing her. So, your first step toward a discussion is to STOP SCREAMING!
Seriously, when seeking a “constructive discussion” it requires both parties to listen. Of equal importance, is not making the other person wrong. You may want to ask yourself, what you’ll gain by being right, and whether being right is worth damaging your relationship with your mom?
Try active listening. There’s plenty of tools online to guide you through the process. (See below for a few links) Many relationships have benefited by implementing this communication technique. Active listening can be successful in paving the way to future non-screaming constructive discussions.
We, as a nation, needless division between us, let it start at home.
For now, my advice is - don’t discuss politics with your mom.
Keep us posted.
Got a questions for Ask AC?