“No matter what you do, don’t ever talk about politics or religion.” I’m sure we’ve all heard those words at some point in our life. Someone once told me that the main reason to avoid those two subjects is they provide an opportunity for conflict, and most people avoid conflict. I think it’s because these are two topics most people simply don’t take the time to understand.
Politics and religion are both complicated topics that are easy to develop an uneducated opinion but difficult to dig deep to truly understand. I also think most people who realize they aren’t able to stand toe-to-toe with someone who possesses a strong knowledge of either topic have found that it’s easier to just not talk about them. Ironically, our efforts to avoid the conflict that comes from discussing them causes us to miss an opportunity to learn.
As we head into a presidential election, the commentary has opened multiple doors for thoughtful discussion. We have many chances to broaden our views on incredibly important issues facing our country if we’re willing to engage in the discussions (provided the discussion is in an appropriate venue, and Facebook is not one of those venues). There is significant value associated with sharing different points of view and different approaches to solving our nation’s challenges. In these discussions, we’ll experience tension for having different views. This tension can bring about conflict or an opportunity to learn.
The key is to have the conversation and not fall back on the advice to never talk about politics or religion. We must enter into the discussions with an open mind and aspire to embrace the tension and learn from it. We can speak passionately about a political issue and still come out on opposite ends of the issue. A healthy debate of an issue does not need to become a brawl. As long as we discuss the topics with respect for one another, we just might be able to convince someone to consider our views. So, challenge yourself to learn about the issues. Take off the gloves, arm yourself with facts, and have the conversation with an open mind. You just might learn something.
© 2015 Clint Swindall — Clint is the president & CEO of Verbalocity, Inc., a personal development company with a focus on leadership enhancement. For information about how he can enhance employee engagement in your organization, please visit www.verbalocity.com, or contact him directly firstname.lastname@example.org.