How to survive election season in politically diverse households

Illustration of 4 people of varying political party affiliations celebrating Election Day, by Armaan Mumtaz.
Armaan Mumtaz/Staff

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As the election hits its peak, so do political tensions among family members and friends. No matter which side of the political spectrum you’re on, election season can get a bit heated. Here are a few tips to keeping the election tension at bay while engaging in civic conversations with people of differing political viewpoints.

Set boundaries before engaging in a conversation

Although this may seem obvious, setting boundaries can really help ease the tension before watching the election results pour in or engaging in a political conversation (perhaps, debriefing the debates) with people around you. Plan ahead and take the time to talk with whomever you’re sharing space and want to have a political conversation with by first setting some parameters on what you can talk about and how you can respect each other’s choices.

Have an educational conversation about the points you differ on (and be sure to do your research)

Sometimes, debates are unavoidable. But it’s important to keep all the conversations educational and civil, even though it may sometimes be difficult. Make sure to do research about the topics you’re especially invested in beforehand, so both parties can walk away feeling more educated about the matter than they did prior to the conversation.

Respect and listen to everyone’s opinions, even if you don’t agree

This could potentially be one of the hardest things to do while involved in a political conversation. However, the best thing you can do is try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and acknowledge their point before giving your opinion. This can be as simple as starting your counterargument with “I hear what you are saying, but …” or simply giving them the time to speak. In the end, this will help your relationship and make the other person more inclined to listen to your point of view. 

Have a debate space and a social space

This is especially helpful if you live with people who have different political views. Sometimes, it helps to have a “debate space” or “debate time” during election season. This time could be once a week in the morning over a cup of coffee. Creating a political space helps you separate your political feelings from your personal connections, which will make quarantine a lot more bearable in the long run. 

We hope these tips can help keep the peace and make the election season a bit more tolerable. Happy voting, and see you Nov. 3!

Contact Isabella Carreno at [email protected].