Monday, May 08, 2006

How to Talk Politics with Friends - And Still Have Some Left

Grenny offers a few tips for improving the outcome of any disagreement.

1. Look for areas of agreement. Begin by reinforcing the basic values
and purposes you hold in common. Political differences are usually
over tactics or individuals, not basic values. Let the other person
know you share common goals, even if your preferred tactics for
achieving them differ.
2. Avoid personal attacks. Find ways to remind the other person that
you respect them. Look at the situation from their perspective by
asking yourself why a reasonable and rational person would hold that
political view. While you don't have to agree with their view, you
can still acknowledge their view is valid, rather than "idiotic" or
3. Focus on facts, and be tentative, not dogmatic. We've all become
masters at spin detection, and none of us like when people
exaggerate, twist and spin the facts. Consider the source of your
facts, and ask the other person to do the same. Ask two questions:
Could the facts be biased? Could they be interpreted in different
4. Keep it safe by looking for signs of silence or violence. If the
other person grows quiet or starts to become defensive, step out of
the content of the discussion and restore safety. Reinforce your
respect for them, and remind them of the broader purpose you both
share. With enough safety you can talk about anything.

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