#Askingforafriend: The art of agreeing to disagree

By Mike Wallace
GCU Office of Student Care
#Askingforafriend

Your roommate starts cheering, “Go, Trump.” You are left speechless and frustrated.

Or you have just come back from a political rally with right leanings, and you find out your new girlfriend has very liberal ones.

How do we navigate these polarizing times when friends and peers find themselves at the opposite ends of political issues?

Tensions are at an all-time high, and it is sad and tragic when people we care about and are connected to want no more of the relationship because of political views.  

Perspectives and viewpoints are a big part of human nature, and even stereotypes serve a purpose. They help us sort out our environment.

But we cannot stay there if they are distorted because that leads to biased behaviors and a lack of listening. So here are some strategies to consider when that new girlfriend/boyfriend, peer or roommate triggers political emotions:

How to agree to disagree:

  • Understand that even if you think you have a valid point or insight on an argument, there is no way to know every angle or truth on any issue (e.g., pro-life/pro-choice, illegal immigration, mask wearing).
  • Allow space for the opposing person to express themselves fully without interrupting. Either make mental notes or write them down to respond later.
  • Express your needs (love, safety, concerns, desires, fears, etc.), not positions: Republican, Democrat, Protestant, Catholic …
  • If you must get into a discussion/debate, deal with one issue at a time. This allows for good processing and keeps things focused.
  • Do not bring up old issues that are not pertinent to the current issue: “Yeah, well, I thought you were clueless on the racial issue, so how can you know anything about our current COVID issue?”
  • Be empathic. Even if you have strong emotions about an issue, try your best to put yourself in the other person’s shoes: “Hey, I might not like the mask mandates, but I understand the fear if a loved one has died from COVID and that is why they are for it.”
  • If you have to debate, refrain from absolute statements, such as “You always …” or “You never …” or “Trump always does …” or “Biden never does …”
  • No name calling, PERIOD!
  • Be emotionally intelligent. Look for non-verbal clues, such as tears or frowns, that could be signals to back off or approach.
  • Lastly, just be respectful of each other. We are all made in God’s image.

These strategies also do not have to be limited to political viewpoints. They’re just good communication skills whenever there is dissension or conflict.

One final note: Moderate your use of social media!

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Bible Verse

Jesus taught his disciples, saying: "So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the prophets." (Matthew 7:12)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/