Tuesday, April 21, 2015

A to Z Blogging "P is for..."

"...Politics and Religion" 
From the series "Words Matter"
by Shelly Burke, RN, Author, and Publisher, Nebraska Family Times newspaper

People’s core values and morals are usually based at least partly on religious and/or political beliefs. Almost everyone has passionate feelings about some aspects of religion and/or politics, and since there are (at least) two sides to every issue, there are also many heated discussions about these issues. 

Here are several situations in which you might be, and possible replies:

What to Say

To start a discussion:

  • “What did you think of the election?” 
  • “What are your thoughts on _____________?”  
  • “I’d like to hear your point of view; will you hear my thoughts too?”

You can disagree with actions of a person or group by saying,  

  • “I do not agree with the decision to . . . “
  • “I think they should have handled it differently . . . “

At an occasion or in a setting where a serious discussion is inappropriate--a funeral, for example--or when you can tell that continuing the conversation will lead to an argument, you might say:

  • “I think we’re on the opposite side of that issue and this isn’t really an appropriate place to discuss it, so let’s talk about something else.”  
  • With a smile, say, “You’re sitting at the table with three people who happen to take the opposite point of view! Let’s talk about something else.”

If the situation is escalating, diffuse it; 

  • “I can see that we have very different thoughts about that, and

    that’s what’s great about America--we can all have our own point of view. How about this nice weather we‘re having?”
  • “I don’t think any of us know all the details about that issue . . . let’s just talk about something else. What did you think about the championship game last week?” 

At some time, you will probably be in a situation where you want to talk about your religious beliefs or political views. Remember that the way you present your beliefs will influence how the other person receives them--if you are pushy, strident, critical of his or her beliefs, or confrontational in expressing your own beliefs, the person you are trying to convince might not even hear your message, let alone consider your point of view. Keep your voice calm and expression friendly. You might say;    
  • “In our church, we believe _________; in contrast, your church believes __________.” 
  • “Our religion teaches __________; how does that compare to what your religion teaches?” 
  • “I think the neatest part about what I believe is . . . “
  • “Here’s why I’ve taken my view of this issue . . . “
  • “My political party is in favor of ________, while yours is against it.” 
What Not to Say
  • “I’m right; you’re wrong.”
  • “Your religion is really weird.”
  • “Your political party is always for the wrong thing.” 
  • “If you believe what you do, you’re stupid.”
What to Do
  • If you do decide to get into a conversation about religion or politics, make sure you truly want to talk about the issue, not just argue about it, and are able to clearly state and explain your position, as well as calmly listen to another point of view. 
  • Always remain calm when presenting your beliefs. If a particular issue comes up frequently, consider writing out and practicing the important points so you can present them clearly
    and calmly. 
  • Calmly listen to the other person’s point of view, without interrupting. 
  • If the situation is escalating, diffuse it by making one of the comments listed previously, or walking away. If you become angry, you will not convince anyone of your point of view, and might give the person a bad impression of the beliefs that are most important to you. 
  • Many people know very little about politics or particular religious beliefs or practices. If you are well-informed and able to express your views calmly and clearly, consider yourself an educator and use your knowledge to share your beliefs and clear up common misconceptions. 
Special Notes about Facebook, Twitter and other social media:
  • Be cautious about posting jokes or graphics about religion or politics on Facebook, Twitter or other social media. People can and do overreact to these no matter how you meant it--for a laugh, for discussion or just to state a point--when you posted. 
  • Consider commenting on your post how you did mean the post to be taken: "Just posting this for a laugh!" for example, or
    "This clearly expresses my point of view." or, "This is very informative." 
  • Don't feel that you have to respond to all comments or get into a "discussion", especially if other comments are rude. However, if you can express your thoughts and beliefs clearly, this is a good opportunity to do so; keep your remarks factual and objective without insulting or name-calling.
  • Ignore comments that are rude or contain name-calling or inflammatory comments. 
  • Remember that when you are posting, or reading comments, you can't "read" the emotion behind the comment as you can when you're talking with someone. Don't be automatically offended by a comment that might be meant as humor, and consider marking humorous comments that you make with an "LOL" or smiley face so people are clear that you are joking. 
  • If you know your post will offend close relatives and/or friends, is it worth posting? Only you can decide. 

Don’t . . . 
  • . . . use inflammatory words like ‘stupid‘, ‘idiotic‘, or anything demeaning. 
  • . . . discuss a controversial topic if the other person is very argumentative or inebriated. 
  • . . . use absolutes (always, never) when describing your own, or the opposing, point of view. There are almost always exceptions. 
  • . . . have religious or political debates in an inappropriate setting, like at a funeral.
What do you do or say when religion or politics comes up in a conversation? Do you talk calmly about it or change the subject? 
This post is an excerpt from “What Should I Say? The Right (and Wrong!) Words and Deeds for Life’s Sticky, Tricky Uncomfortable Situations”
by Shelly Burke, RN. Coming soon!
 Download “What Should I Say” and be prepared for any of life’s sticky, tricky uncomfortable situations!
The mission of the “Nebraska Family Times” is to “inspire, encourage and motivate you on your Christian walk.” To receive local, state and national news from a Christian point of view, as well as devotions, Bible Study and articles about all aspects of Christian life, in your mailbox every month, subscribe for only $20 for 12 issues! Click “Subscribe” on the sidebar or send your address and payment to Nebraska Family Times, 209 27th St. Apt. #13, Columbus, NE 68601.
I am also taking the Blogging A to Z Challenge at Home is Where the Mom Is; A Christian Mom's Guide,
where the theme is “Lifehacks for Christian Moms.”

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