How To Talk To Your Friends Who Want To “Tune Out” Politics

So let me make this clear: I love talking about politics. As a feminist and someone who wants to be involved in the political sphere during her career, I could talk (rant, actually) about political matters for hours on end. Given the events of the past few weeks, it’s been super important to me to make sure people know what’s going on in the world and aren’t just sitting there with their heads in the sand. And it’s working: more and more people are discussing political matters willingly, and that’s awesome.

Although the majority of people are more open to talking about politics, I keep coming across one obstacle in my path: the friend who wants nothing to do with politics as a whole. This is the girl (or guy) who runs for the hills if the words “election” or “executive order” are even mentioned in a conversation. In a society where talking about politics is so important, how are we supposed to convince these types of people to get their heads out of the sand and listen? Here are a few tips that may help you out.

Make it nonpartisan

A lot of people who are turned off by politics don’t like the conflict that stems from the bipartisan system. Both Democrats and Republicans are guilty of making issues partisan when they shouldn’t be, and that scares off a large number of people. When presenting different issues to people, try explaining both sides of the argument or just giving straight information. This will make people listen to you because you’re not trying to present a political ideology, just give them the facts. If they ask about your opinion afterwards, then great! If not, at least they know what’s happening.

Don’t use political jargon

Using words that have a strict political meaning, such as “fiscally conservative,” “political pundits” or even the phrase “partisan issue” can make some people completely shut down and not want to talk anymore. Finding resources that explain political issues using words and phrases that everyone can understand will make it much easier for people to listen to what you have to say. A lot of videos floating around on Facebook do this really well. If you see one that you like, save it and send it to a friend!

Find something they’re passionate about

One of the easiest ways I’ve found to talk to people about politics is to find out what they’re passionate about and then run with it. The political sphere touches almost every aspect of our lives, and no matter what their interests are, there’s something that they care about that is affected by politics. Got a friend who’s passionate about the environment? Talk to them about issues with the EPA and national parks. What about a business buff? International business and trade deals may be their segue into politics. Even the arts and music are affected by the government (NPR, public television, or the National Endowment for the Arts, anybody?), so there should be no trouble finding something that your friend is passionate about.

Stay passionate yourself

There’s nothing worse than listening to someone drone on and on about something if they don’t even seem to care about it. The best way to make people listen to you is to stay passionate! Bringing a positive energy to the conversation is going to make people want to listen to what you have to say. The best way for you to stay passionate is to stay informed. Keep yourself updated on what’s happening in the world so that one, you don’t look like you have no idea what’s going on and two, you keep yourself motivated to speak. Being passionate about something is appealing to people and it will make you feel better about yourself, too!

Sara Beth Bolin

Editorial Contributor, University of Alabama | Majors: Journalism, Anthropology, and Political Science | Her heart belongs to: dogs, democracy, and a good dark roast | Her guilty pleasures: crispy M&Ms, 30 Rock, and autobiographies by female comedians

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