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Clinician’s Corner: Managing Political Polarization

We’re living in unprecedented times.

How many times have we heard this?

Many of us are experiencing a tremendous number of conflicting emotions and feelings regarding the presidential election, the coronavirus as well as other pressing issues. These topics can put friends and family in conflict.

How do we manage our convictions and our relationships at the same time?

Political polarization has become such an issue that some people will only surround themselves with others of the same political view. However, with thoughtfulness and compassion, we can learn to put the anger aside. Relationships with diverging views can be successful if we learn to discuss opinions without demeaning each other.

Can we agree to disagree? Is it possible to love someone but disagree about politics?

The answer is yes. It requires communication skills and an understanding that you are not going to change the other person.

When it comes to conversations with loved ones about controversial topics let’s not forget to set healthy boundaries. Using active listening and acknowledge differences is important. Respond with respectful language and try to avoid inflammatory responses.

Often people feel unheard and ignored which can lead to arguments.

It is important to listen to the other person’s side and acknowledge their concerns, then you can express our own. An example would be “Although I don’t agree with your side, I can see how this can concern you.”. Being mindful of our words can build a bridge between opposing views.

It can also help to make your upcoming gathering with family and friends over the holidays much more enjoyable!

Lisa Ardovini, LMHC
Clinician IV, Community Team
Spectrum Health and Human Services

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