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  • Writer's pictureGeraldine Waxman, ESQ.

Different Views/Different Values

Retaining Friendships

While the origins of the argument in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet's respective families may be lost to the ages, those Montegues and Capulets who fought to the death every time, were not far off from our model version of Montegues and Capulets: Democrats and Republicans! Families and friendships have fallen like a loose robe to the ground, to be kicked aside, never to be worn again.

While there may not be one Romeo and one Juliet to bring these dueling families (political groups) together, it is worth at least thinking that if we were once again civil to each other, perhaps, just perhaps, we would stop losing our friendships and/or families during this divisive time. Here then are some thoughts about speaking with and to our families and friends when you and they differ on politics:

1. Sincere Listening: Stay interested in your friend/family's point of view. Ask open ended questions without getting involved in "feelings," "likes" and "dislikes." Ask questions for clarification about why your friend/family member prefers one side without responding.

2. Do not be a "selective listener": Selective listening is listening for that moment when you can insert a "but" or "however" so that you can disagree with what is being said.

3. Do not try changing the other individuals point of view: Belief is an interpretation of facts and, as such, you won't change anyone's mind and you will alienate the person.

(dueling experts still won't change a "belief"). Perhaps simply to understand each other will suffice to retain the family member/friend.

4. Do not impose your political belief on the "other”: Most beliefs are deeply rooted in who the person believes they are and their identity. Think rather if you like that person, it is part of who they are and after all we all have our "flaws.”

5. Agree to disagree: When all is said and done, perhaps the friendship and family member is worth more than a political party and your personal and continued relationship is worth a lot more than any Montegue or Capulet.

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