Three rules for conversations about politics

Two months ago, in the seating lottery that inevitably occurs, when a big group enters I lost and ended up sitting next to my Uncle, Ray.

He’s a good man but we view the world through drastically different lenses.

He thinks Clinton is the anti-christ; I think Trump might be. He thinks immigrants are dangerous; I think they’re courageous. He thinks taxes are evil, blah blah blah.

Settling into my seat, I knew I was in for some contentious dinner conversation.

Have you ever sat down to dinner knowing someone else at the table disagrees with your point of view?

Maybe it’s about politics.

Maybe it’s about work.

Or what happened on The Voice last night.

Whatever it is, there’s a good chance it’s going to come up in conversation.

Reflecting on my dinner with Uncle Ray — btw it went horribly, we started arguing loudly over one another, and both left feeling like shit — I decided I needed a few rules to guide similar situations in the future.

So, like any entrepreneur, I created a few. Feel free to steal as you see fit.

First, it’s important to explain the rules are meant to provide a respectful foundation to a productive conversation.

Then, outline the rules:

Interruptions are not allowed. Every time someone interrupts someone else — they must say something nice about the person they disagree with.
All comments must end with a question for someone else. Questions force us to assume a posture of openness. They also prevent us from simply waiting out turn to talk (instead of actually listening).
All comments must begin with a compliment for someone with whom they disagree/their position on the topic.

Give it a try and report back what happens.

I’ll do the same.

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