Talking politics can be risky at any time, but with presidential candidates like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, conversations can take a sharp turn for the worst.
Since politics are extremely controversial, it is best to not start the conversation. This is according to Diane Gottsman, a national etiquette expert and modern manners professional. She is also the owner of The Protocol School or Texas, a company specializing in executive leadership and etiquette training.
Here are a few points Gottsman makes in her article called “10 Etiquette Tips on Talking Politics”:
Remember politics are not off limits at a social event. Anyone can bring up the subject, but you can refuse to continue the conversation by telling them you do not want to talking about it at that time.
Anna Post, expert in etiquette and writer for Reuters, wrote an article called “Modern Etiquette: Talking Politics at Home and Work,” that gives a list of talking politics. Post allows an easy out option for someone that does not want to continue with a political conversation.
In return, one shouldn’t assume everyone wants to talk about politics.
Educate yourself. Not only does this show one’s knowledge in the subject, but also allows one to continue the conversation. Post calls this the “do your homework” section of her article.
It’s okay for the other person to give their opinion. Allow them to speak without interruption, then this courtesy will be returned.
Ask questions. When questions are asked one will gain more knowledge about the topic and more knowledge of the other’s point of view.
The conversation being had may result in disagreement, but different perspectives should not be taken personally. Post also mentions this in her article. She uses the phrase “I can’t believe you think that” as a phrase to avoid, that way the other party does not feel as if they are being attacked.
Keep your voice down. Keep it clean. Be mindful. One should remember that it is okay to agree to disagree and everyone is allowed to have their own opinion.
Have an exit strategy. This is given from Post’s article, and allows one to leave the conversation if it becomes too heated. Post suggests the phrase “I’ll have to consider that,” as a way to end it.
These suggestions for talking politics provided by Gottsman and Post allow anyone to have a conversation when it is necessary. Remember, listen to everyone’s opinion and don’t allow comments to become personal if one does not agree with them.