Current events have promoted many discussions in our society, and particularly in light of the heated political debates America has witnessed going into the election, it can be easy to fall into a trap of turning discussions into arguments.
However, one of the most important things to keep in mind when discussing controversial topics is that having civil discussions goes much further than having a heated argument. This may seem difficult to do. In the social climate of today, calm discussions seem like a lost art, particularly when different opinions collide.
In all relationships good communication is one of the most important elements, and particularly with regard to conflict, communication works best when both sides of the discussion keep it at that — instead of turning it into an argument. Just like yelling and insults will not make much progress in a relationship or friendship, the same can be said of discussions regarding political or social issues.
Anyone who watched the first presidential debate of 2020 between President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Joe Biden probably saw an example of how not to discuss issues. In fact, one of the many criticisms of the night was that the opponents spent more time insulting each other than they did demonstrating why they would be a more favorable candidate.
In the second debate, between the two vice presidential candidates, Mike Pence and Kamala Harris, they read a question from an 8th grader asking how Americans can be expected to get along when all we see on TV is politicians and people in positions of leadership fighting and arguing. This 8th grader raised an extremely valid point, which only goes to show even further how difficult it can be for people to hold respectful and civil conversations when there are few examples of this in current politics and among many other public figures.
Although this may be the case, it does not mean that we must follow their poor example, but instead rise above the growing trend of either shutting down or inflating disagreements. Although civility and respect may not be values that are held in high regard by the current leadership of our country, this is no excuse for us to not respect those around us, as well as the opinions they hold.
One of the key elements in discussing conflict or controversy is for both parties to come into the conversation with respect. Recognize differences in opinion yet take time to listen and show respect toward other people. This will not only help people gain more insight and understanding into the conversation, but it will also make both people feel more heard and more likely to agree.
While many people tend to stay away from controversial topics or conflict, there is a time when discussing important issues and views is necessary to make changes in our world. People should not be afraid to express opinions that they think are important. Instead, we should agree not to immediately shut down or shut out anyone who challenges someone’s perspective.
In a world with many different opinions, it makes sense that there will also be many potential areas of miscommunication. However, taking time to listen and understand is the first step in gaining respect from both sides of a discussion. This ultimately paves the way for making changes in all areas of life, whether that is political, social, or even in regard to relationships and friendships.