Navigating political partisanship politely
We've just been through a rather contentious political season, but there are ways to graciously handle political questions and conversations. METROGRAPHICS
Politics and the 2017 inauguration are an especially touchy subject. Political partisanship has been on the rise, along with public incivility. So, what is the best way to navigate those post-inauguration thorny political discussions?
Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert, author and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide, offers these tips to graciously handle political questions and conversations:
• Respectfully respond and engage in conversation: Expressing your beliefs can be done in a way not destined for a political brawl. For example, citing research and concrete reasons why your views align a certain way encourages more of an intellectual conversation, as opposed to a war of opinions. Just as you want to express your beliefs, be courteous and let the other person express his or her beliefs, even if you disagree.
• You can mannerly reconcile conflicting beliefs: It's inevitable that disagreements will arise. When they do, handle them with grace, dignity and respect. For example: "That's an interesting viewpoint, and you raise some valid points. However, my research reveals ..." Never raise your voice, reveal anger, abruptly walk away or make it personal.
• You can exercise your right to privacy: Keeping your opinion to yourself is professional and privacy is indeed possible. Have a few authentic statements in your arsenal: "After such a contentious election and the inauguration, I'm keeping my opinion to myself. I appreciate your interest and wish you the best in 2017." By acknowledging and thanking them for their genuine interest, you defer a sticky political conversation, and maintain privacy.
Here are some phrases to end a political conversation before it gets heated:
• "Thanks for sharing your post-inauguration political views, it certainly gives us something to consider. Bye for now."
• "I'm uncomfortable discussing politics at social events, but I enjoyed visiting with you. Excuse me." Then step away.
• "It's nice to meet you, enjoy the rest of (event). Excuse me."
• "Thanks for your time. Maybe I'll see you at our next lunch meeting. Excuse me."
Consider these statements to segue to new topic
• "Mike, thanks for that post-inauguration update. Sally, as our host you mentioned a best-selling book you were reading. Will you share more please?"
• "Post-inauguration 2017 will be interesting. Who has spring break travel plans?"
• "Has anyone seen the Golden Globe Award-winning movie 'Manchester by The Sea'?"
• "We are going to the game and have extra tickets. Who wants to go?"
• "Who else has seen the new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum?"
Above all else, graciously handle yourself: Whether you decide to respond or not, be tactful, polite and remember that educated responses allow you to cordially engage, or graciously decline whenever these inevitable conversations cross your path.
We all understand and recognize respect.
For more information about Schweitzer, visit http://www.protocolww.com.