It鈥檚 been more than a week since America learned that Donald Trump would be our new President-Elect, but for many, the debates are just beginning. For starters, Californians are now calling to secede from the US and join Canada, Twitter is banning alt-right accounts and birth control wars are in full-swing (are you part of the #ThxBirthControl movement?) 鈥 yikes!

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With a nation split right down the middle (or, at least the half that voted!) with regard to their chosen political champions, we find ourselves in a unique position. How do we talk to one another when our views are so radically different? Is it even worth trying? Can we really come to a consensus with our own friends and family members if they support ideas that violate our beliefs to the very core and/or vice versa?

As a litigator and conflict resolution expert in LA, Larry Slade sees this type of conflict almost every day. He points out that while current political debates may be making us uncomfortable, they鈥檙e doing so because, for the most part, we鈥檙e not used to this much conflict in our lives, and that鈥檚 a good thing: It means we鈥檙e largely harmonious.

Larry, on the other hand, is embroiled in lawsuits and arguments between clients on the reg. 鈥淲e walk that walk every day,鈥 he says. The difference? 鈥淲e鈥檙e trained not to take it personally.鈥

Here, he offers us tips on how to do the same, with a list of Dos and Don鈥檛s for when it comes to communicating with a member of an opposing party (or simply someone with an opposing viewpoint). Read on for his expert insight below!


Larry says the number one no-no when communicating with someone with a different viewpoint from your own is 鈥渃ontemplating your response to a point while someone else is making it instead of listening. 鈥淸We鈥檙e] talking at and through and over each other,鈥 he explains. Maybe that鈥檚 because, as Larry puts it, instead of treating political debates like a discussion, they鈥檙e often seen as a combat; one with a clear winner and a clear loser. But in reality, 鈥淭hat鈥檚 not how it is,鈥 he says. 鈥淭wo people enter, and two people leave angry.鈥

Instead, Larry says we鈥檇 be well-suited to look at our challengers as human beings rather than opponents. 鈥淸This] human being arrived at their position through experiences and perceptions that [you] might not understand about them,鈥 he tells us. 鈥淲alk a mile in their shoes:鈥 a concept he says is all too often abandoned in today鈥檚 society.

Young Woman Discussing Problems With Counselor


We get it: When someone says something that totally irks you, your first instinct might be to just go ahead and click that little 鈥渦nfriend鈥 button. Without your antagonist there to provoke you, there鈥檚 nothing to argue about, and that鈥檚 really a positive, right? Wrong, says Larry. While it might feel good in the moment and make you more comfortable in the short run, you鈥檙e ultimately not doing yourself any favors. After all, how can we grow and learn from others if we鈥檙e only willing to hear our own viewpoints reflected back at us? 鈥淚t is more emotionally comfortable to have a Facebook feed that has comments and features consistent with [our own] hidden biases,鈥 he says. 鈥淚t bolsters [people and] further supports their point of view.鈥 The same goes for news articles. 鈥淸If] people see an article that confirms their bias, [they] automatically assume it鈥檚 true, and vice versa,鈥 he says. 鈥淚f you see an article that opposes [it, you] automatically think it鈥檚 untrue.鈥

But that doesn鈥檛 make it so. Just like stepping outside your own neighborhood to explore a new area can yield the most charming little hidden restaurant or coffee shop, exposing yourself to other viewpoints 鈥 even those you don鈥檛 agree with 鈥 can actually expand your mind, if you鈥檙e willing to do the work. 鈥淚n order to be able to not respond by deleting or shutting people out, you have to be willing to be a little uncomfortable,鈥 Larry says, noting that 鈥淚t requires you do more homework. [It takes] time and effort and a lot of people don鈥檛 want to expend it,鈥 he adds.

While there are always exceptions to the rule, Larry says that even in more extreme cases, when someone鈥檚 post or comment goes against your values or offends you on a deep or moral level, there are other ways to keep the peace. 鈥淵ou don鈥檛 have to delete them.鈥 Instead, he recommends hiding their posts if you believe their point of view will interfere with your relationship.

mom and daughter,Conflict.


While some might be tempted to clam up and say nothing to avoid a conflict, Larry says to put that old adage, which says not to discuss money, politics or religion, to rest and go for it 鈥 if you can do so in a respectful manner. 鈥淚鈥檓 not sure that I鈥檓 always right,鈥 Larry says. 鈥淚 want to hear someone else鈥檚 perspective.鈥

Besides, 鈥淚f you take those issues off the table, what鈥檚 left? Much more mundane subjects,鈥 he says. 鈥淚t鈥檚 not really the food that sustains us.鈥 As a conflict resolution expert, small talk, like the weather and such, is not something Larry particularly recommends or advocates for in general. 鈥淚t doesn鈥檛 further anyone else鈥檚 understanding.鈥

Instead, speak up if you see someone you know saying something offensive. 鈥淚f you know them, and their comment surprises you, engage [them]. They may know something you don鈥檛 know. I think it鈥檚 good if it鈥檚 done respectfully. If you can agree to disagree, then engage in respectful discussion.鈥


On the other hand, there are some fights that really aren鈥檛 worth the battle: particularly those that are becoming personal. 鈥淧eople have a tendency to attack their opponent,鈥 Larry says. If you can鈥檛 refrain from make reductive statements about someone鈥檚 character (鈥淵ou鈥檙e a jerk, you鈥檙e an idiot, you鈥檙e a racist/bigot/misogynist鈥), you鈥檙e better off bowing out. 鈥淭he reality is, a lot of this stuff takes place in gray areas. There鈥檚 not an easy answer to it,鈥 he explains. 鈥淭rying to reduce the other side to black and white is very destructive and doesn鈥檛 help the people engaged. It doesn鈥檛 shed any light on the subject.鈥

It also might be better to let it go when it鈥檚 becoming clear that neither party is willing to budge. 鈥淸We] all have different realities鈥 they color the lenses through which we see the world,鈥 Larry says. 鈥淵ou can鈥檛 wave your hand and change [someone else鈥檚] lenses.鈥 If someone is staying rooted in an opinion you disagree with, 鈥渢here鈥檚 not much you can do [but] continue to be understanding and seek to be understood.鈥 Or, change the subject!


At the end of the day, you鈥檙e likely acquainted with the person you鈥檙e fighting with for a reason, so it鈥檚 helpful to remember what bonded you in the first place. 鈥淭he reason we鈥檙e conversing [is that there is some] pre-existing connection,鈥 Larry points out. 鈥淣ow there鈥檚 something that鈥檚 pulling that connection apart.鈥

Instead of allowing an issue to do just that, he recommends focusing on our shared goals rather than nitty gritty details. 鈥淔ocus on the outcome of a resolution as opposed to the mechanics of it,鈥 he suggests, giving issues shared as an example. Maybe you dislike Trump while your friend supports him, but you鈥檙e both for a reformed healthcare plan. Now you鈥檝e changed 鈥渨hat pulls you apart to what binds you together.鈥

Women outside stolling


While it鈥檚 great that you鈥檙e passionate about your point of view, Larry says there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. 鈥淚 think that everyone has a different level of stamina when it comes to disagreement,鈥 he shares. 鈥淭here鈥檚 a certain point in time when conflict becomes detrimental to you.鈥 Whether it be mentally, emotionally or even eventually physically, it hits those who aren鈥檛 used to conflict particularly hard. 鈥淚t鈥檚 very disquieting,鈥 he says, adding that the extra weight of it all can easily cause you to lose sleep, overeat and stress, all of which could be bad news bears when it comes to your health.

At the end of the day? 鈥淪ometimes you need to just put it down,鈥 he says. 鈥淭urn off Fox News or MSNBC.鈥

Amen to that!

What do you think of Larry鈥檚 tips? Share with us @BritandCo.

(Photos via Getty)