Login | Contact

Taboo Topics – How to Manage High Conflict Subjects on Religion, Money, and Politics

exchange-of-ideas-222789_1920

There are three topics they say you should not discuss when you’re in polite company: religion, money, and politics. However, with the grandstanding of political candidates engaging in conflict and drama-filled debates, it’s difficult to avoid talking politics when gathering with family and friends.

It is important to remember when a taboo topic works its way into the conversation that people hold their beliefs and values in high regard. Therefore, immediately attacking their position is a surefire way to find yourself in conflict.

It may seem impossible, but there are some things you can do to help manage these conversations, so they do not get out of control. The very first thing to consider before engaging in these taboo topics is to decide upfront, what is your intention and/or goal for entering this territory? Is it a debate where you stand your ground holding on to your dear beliefs convincing and persuading the other person to join you on your side? Or is it a genuine dialogue and an opportunity to understand each other’s perspective? If it is the latter, then consider these strategies or skills.

  1. Listen. So you might not agree with Aunt Lucy’s political beliefs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hear her out. Actively listening while she is speaking and not formulating your rebuttals or cutting her off shows consideration and respect. When she finishes talking, you then have the opportunity to voice your opinion. If you didn’t cut her off, there is a likely chance she won’t cut you off. However, if she does you could say, ” Aunt Lucy, I would like to voice my standpoint and then get your response. Would you be willing to listen without interruption?”
  2. Don’t attack. Be careful using words or phrases like: “stupid” or “ridiculous” or” that’s insane” or ” I can’t believe you like him/her.” It is essential that you don’t attack their views because in doing so you will find they will get defensive. Once this happens, feelings can get hurt, someone could say something they don’t mean, and no productive or reasonable conversation can occur.
  3. Ask questions. You may not agree with what they are saying, but that doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions to gain further understanding of their views. Perhaps, having an open mind and asking questions will open up a greater discussion. Asking questions will also so interest in the other’s views which can make them feel respected and appreciated. For example, “Uncle Jim, what is it you have heard in the media that has contributed to your opinion?”
  4. Breathe. Uncle Jim’s beliefs may ultimately clash with your convictions, and you might notice that your triggers are going off and that you’re getting angry. Take some deep breaths or excuse yourself for a moment to gain composure. But keeping your anger in check is an absolute must if you want to avoid intense and unconstructive conflicts.
  5. Agree to Disagree. The likelihood that you will change the other person’s opinion is far-reaching. There is a chance you might not even find common ground. But, doing one through four of these tips will help keep the conversation productive. You could say very kindly say, ” I hear what you are saying Uncle Bill, but I respectfully disagree. However, thank you for taking the time to explain your views.”

Nowadays everyone appears to have polarized views on religion, politics, and money. Disagreements on those views are bound to arise when they are discussed so figuring out how to manage those conversations constructively is key to avoiding intense conflicts and possibly damaging the relationship.

 

Have a Great Week!

Abigail R. C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice.

 

Leave a Reply




  • Podcast Library

  • Subscribe by Email

    Join our mailing list to receive our newsletter and blogs!

  • Recent Posts