How to Deal With Friends With Different Political Views

Three Methods:Tolerating Opposing Political ViewsFocusing on Common InterestsPatching Your Friendship After a Disagreement

Most of the time when you make friends, you’re paying attention to what you have in common. You might enjoy their sense of humor, their kindness, their taste in music, or their willingness to help you out in a pinch. However, sometimes your friends will have political views that are very different from your own. Focusing on what you have in common, and learning to avoid political conversations will help you deal with friends who don’t share your own political views. When you do get into a disagreement, learning to patch things up will help your friendship endure.

Method 1
Tolerating Opposing Political Views

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    Practice “hungry listening.” A good friend has sincere interest in finding out as much as she can about her friends’ point of view. If you’re really sincere about staying involved in this friendship, stay interested in your friends’ daily life and experiences. Let your questions reflect this deep interest, and don’t get caught up discussions of political likes and dislikes.[1]
    • Explore your friends’ perspective by asking open-ended questions.
    • Think out loud about what your friend shares, and ask questions to clarify that you’ve understood what she said.
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    Be wary of “blocked listening.” Political beliefs are sensitive, personal issues, and it can be easy to get emotional about them. When people have political discussions, they’re likely to engage in “blocked listening” which means selectively listening to your friend’s words for an opportunity to disagree with what’s been said.[2]
    • If you find yourself wanting to include the word “but” in your conversation, chances are you’re engaged in blocked listening.
    • Remember that telling people where they’re wrong is unlikely to change their minds or improve your relationship.
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    Don’t try to change your friend’s views. Because political beliefs are based on interpretation of facts, you won’t be able to convince another person of your point of view by quoting well-respected experts who agree with you. This only invites your friend to bring in expert opinions that support her own point of view.[3]
    • Quoting experts, or providing poll figures to show how many people agree with you on a political topic, isn’t likely to persuade your friend that she’s wrong and you’re right.
    • If this is an issue that’s important to your values, it’s enough to just let her know what your own beliefs are. If she wants to learn more, allow her to ask you.
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    Avoid imposing your political beliefs on your friends. It’s not fun to talk to someone whose beliefs are fixed. Political conversations between friends aren’t really about who is right and who is wrong. Instead, they’re an opportunity to keep a good, thoughtful mood going.[4]
    • It will help to realize that political viewpoints are deeply connected to a person’s sense of identity.
    • If you get so focussed on “winning” the conversation, no one will have a good time. Instead of trying to change your friend’s mind about a political topic, find ways to relax and enjoy the discussion.
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    Be mindful of your social media feed. You wouldn’t want to find your own social media feed full of opinions you disagree with, so be careful not to do this to others. It’s okay to include occasional political opinions, but you don’t need to post your opinions day after day.[5]
    • In particular, avoid putting in opinions that put down political perspectives that are mean-spirited or which put down opposing views.
    • If your friend posts extensively on political perspectives that you disagree with, it’s okay to “hide” her feed. This way, you can focus more on your real-life friendship.
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    Agree to disagree. If you feel yourself getting emotional during a conversation, it might be a good idea to take a break. Knowing when to walk away from a conversation can save a friendship before you say something that you can’t take back.[6]
    • If your friend tries to end the conversation with you, don’t force her to continue. When the conversation’s not fun anymore, it’s time to end it.
    • Remember that no matter what your political differences might be, your personal relationship is more important.

Method 2
Focusing on Common Interests

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    Treat your friend with respect. Put yourself in your friend’s shoes, and imagine what they’re thinking about. Instead of just getting mad, it’s better to think of why they hold these beliefs. Most people ultimately want the same thing: personal safety, economic prosperity, and social stability. Different political perspectives simply have different ways of stating this.[7]
    • Remember that your friends don’t have to have the same point of view as you do. Don’t take it personally if they have different political views.
    • It’s easy to allow something you feel strongly about to dominate your attention, but try to focus instead on the qualities that originally drew you to this friendship.
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    Initiate a conversation. If avoiding political conversation is jeopardizing your friendship, try to schedule a time to have a respectful conversation. Be prepared to listen with an open mind and with curiosity.[8]
    • Remember that you’re likely to learn something new if you’re able to keep your own opinions to a minimum.
    • However, if your friend expresses interest in learning more about your own point of view, share your thoughts with her in a way that shows you’ve been listening to what she’s said.
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    Accentuate the positive. If your friend respects a politician that you dislike, find the aspects of this politician that you respect. When you attribute (or misattribute) negative motives to politicians your friend likes, you’ll damage your friendship.[9]
    • Even if there is very little you respect about a particular politician, there will be something that you can find that you like. Perhaps he has a dog, and you like dogs. Maybe he went to the same college you did.
    • The point is to diligently seek out the best in the opposing political perspective, so you can maintain your friendship.
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    Consider the goal of your conversation. Talking about politics can quickly derail a conversation that you’re having, even if it started in an entirely different place. Are you trying to change the mind of your friend by having this conversation? Are you trying to impress her with your knowledge? Or maybe just venting frustration?[10]
    • Think about the setting as well. It might be one thing to engage in a political conversation while you’re watching political debates on television, but they should probably be avoided in the workplace or most social setting.
    • If you find yourself turning to political conversations to vent your frustration over current affairs, you might want to save this talk for a like-minded friend who shares your concerns.

Method 3
Patching Your Friendship After a Disagreement

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    Allow some time to cool down. If you’ve got heated feelings left over from a disagreement with your friend, wait until you’re calmer before you extend an olive branch. Your words won’t feel genuine unless you really are sincere about wanting to patch things up.[11]
    • Your friend might also benefit from some time to cool down, but don’t wait for her to reach out to you. If you’re prepared to let bygones be bygones, give her a call.
    • Take the time to consider your friend’s perspective and why she might be hurt. Thinking about the reasons she might be angry or hurt will help you have a more open conversation.
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    Consider whether you need to apologize. If you’ve considered the disagreement from your friend’s perspective, your own actions might seem different than they did at the time. You might realize that you acted in a way that was unnecessarily hurtful or dismissive.[12]
    • Even if your friend also behaved badly, this shouldn’t keep you from taking a careful look at your own part in the disagreement. No matter what she did, you’re still responsible for your own words and actions.
    • Think ahead of time what you plan to apologize for, being as specific as you can.
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    Don’t hold onto resentments. When you have a talk with your friend, you’ll want her to know that you’re prepared to completely let go of the negative feelings that came up during the disagreement. Disagreements are natural among friends, but they don’t have to mean the end of the friendship.
    • Be prepared to say everything you need to say, but keep it in a polite, friendly tone.
    • Allow your friend to say whatever she needs to say. Listen carefully to what she says, and don’t interrupt her while she’s talking.
    • Thank your friend for taking the time to talk to you even if it doesn’t go the way you’d have preferred.
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    Forgive your friend. Regardless of how your friend responds to your overtures, it’s best if you can try to completely forgive your friend for any hurts you still may feel. Reliving the disagreement, reminding yourself how right you were (and how wrong she was) won’t help either of you.[13]
    • Know that sometimes a friendship can tolerate the disagreement, and sometimes it can’t. Keep an open mind as you work to repair the friendship, and hopefully your friend will come around in time.
    • If your friend’s behavior is consistently unpredictable, erratic or volatile, you might not be able to repair the friendship.
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    Don’t focus on what caused the fight. Instead, focus on finding solutions for your disagreement. Political views are deeply personal to people, and you won’t be able to find a solution by trying to force agreement. Instead, try reminding each other of what you value in your friendship.[14]
    • If your disagreement was about different political viewpoints, one way of resolving the differences is to focus on what you have in common.
    • At the same time, don’t feel like you have to back away from your own political views. Be open and honest about your views without feeling pressured to relive the disagreement with your friend.
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    Take a break. Sometimes a friendship may need a break. During political campaigns, or when feelings are running high surrounding particular political issues, you may not be able to repair a broken friendship. Realize that you and your friend may make up your differences in the future, and stay open to reconciliation if possible.
    • Don’t do or say anything to remove the possibility of eventual repair. Agreeing to go your separate ways for now doesn’t have to be a permanent break.
    • Don’t beat yourself up for having had this disagreement.


  • Before engaging in a political discussion, ask yourself, "How important is it to me to talk about this right now? Will I remember it in a week?"


  • Be aware that listening to someone else's strong feelings is like trying to drink water from a fire hose. If your emotions are high, it might be best to stay quiet until you feel calmer.

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Categories: Managing Conflict and Difficult Interactions