Editor’s note: this is a excerpt from an ebook I’m working on. Hopefully, if all goes well, I should have it published on The Political Informer in two weeks.
You’re going to be sharing your opinion at some point.
The more you learn and inform yourself, the more you’ll be able to add to conversations.
Sharing your opinion is a byproduct of becoming more informed. It’s nothing to be afraid about. Everyone has a right to share their views on the subject. That includes you.
But guess what?
It’s not going to be easy.
You’ll make mistakes. You’ll say something stupid. Trust me, it’ll happen to you.
It happened to me a lot in the early days of my political “enlightenment.” It got better, obviously. But I still say stupid things here and there.
As long as you learn from your mistakes you’ll be fine.
There’s also a few points you should remember. It’s not much, just a few things I’ve learned over the years.
Remember these, and you’ll be ahead of the game.
Remember These 3 Points
Respect, Friendliness, and a calm demeanor.
Those three attitudes go a long way to separating you from the rest of the aggressive, win or lose, “I share my opinion the wrong way” crowd.
Few people respect differing worldviews.
They’re intolerant, arrogant, and ignorant. That goes for everyone, whether democrat, republican, or libertarian.
You’ll find these people in every camp.
It’s their way or the highway. “If you’re not with us, you’re against us.”
Motives aren’t important because their policies don’t line up with what they think is acceptable.
This is the wrong way to deal with different opinions.
When you share your views, you want people to respect them. You don’t want them to laugh at you, mock you, or dismiss them. The same should go for how you treat their views.
Respect is key for you to be respected.
Don’t be a jerk.
Just don’t do it.
No one will like you for it.
Voicing your opinion is not about being right, or “wining” the argument. It’s about creating conversation.
Here’s a tip, something my mom told me when I was younger.
If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it.
I can’t tell you how helpful that phrase has been when I’m talking about someone.
If we’re talking politics, I also remind myself to keep an outgoing and pleasant attitude.
If someone talked politics with you and enjoyed your kind demeanor, they’ll be willing to talk with you again.
Friendliness separates you from the myriad of morons who only want to argue.
“Be cool, bro. Be cool!”
It’s that’s simple. Just. Be. Cool.
The fear of “losing” the argument, not being right, and looking embarrassed are strong emotions. They can easily influence your behavior, and before you know it you’re sweating and talking loudly.
Keeping a composed appearance is vital to being respected. Keeping your emotions in check even more so.
No one likes it when conversations become emotional and dramatic. It’s a turnoff.
Learn to Find the Right Opportunities and Situations
Here’s a piece of advice…Don’t share your opinion all the time.
There’s a good bit of “when/when not to” involved.
You can call it social grace.
It’s the idea that there are appropriate and inappropriate times to share your mind.
You could call it holding back.
When you in the office, it’s not a good idea to give out unsolicited opinions on politics. However, if you and a coworker are casual chatting and it comes up, don’t shy away.
The classroom is a great example of when it’s appropriate. Family dinner conversations are good for it too. Casual conversations with friends might not be the best place.
It all depends on who you’re with, whether they like talking about politics, and the environment of the place.
Trolling is for Trolls
Here’s a little piece of advice: Troll trolls.
And if they go too far, then block them.
I don’t troll a lot anymore. I did when I first started interacting online. There were fun times, there were bad times.
I definitely looked like a moron at certain points.
Now that I’m older (and more in-tuned with my goals online), I don’t troll nearly as much. For me, it’s counterproductive.
I want people to respect me, read my content, and interact with me later on down the road.
That won’t happen if I troll them.
However, if someone walks into the conversation with no intent on having a meaningful conversation, I’ll make an exception.
This is what I mean by “troll trolls.”
If a troll comes at you, either troll him back, or leave.
Reserve blocking for only the worst trolls.
I remember this one time on Google+. I had written some content that day and was replying to comments. This one guy popped up and automatically started attacking me. I had never talked to him or seen him on the network before then.
But he was trolling me, so I decided to have some fun that day.
After totally owning the guy, I left the “conversation.” Sadly, this guy had a hard time letting it go.
He started mentioning me in posts that were plain mean. He also started trolling all of my comments.
So I blocked him. One click and that guy was gone.
Bye, bye troll.
Here’s the thing, trolls aren’t looking for a constructive conversation. They’re looking for a fight.
You, on the other hand want a constructive conversation. You want to easily talk to people about politics.
This is why you should save trolling for trolls. They’re begging for it.
Everyone else, they just want a nice conversation.
Keep an Open Mind
I’ll always remember the first time I talked to the resident Theonomist at my college. He would later become one of my roommates for sophomore year (and a good friend).
He sat down next to me in the cafeteria one day during freshmen year. Someone mentioned that he was the main theonomist on campus, which automatically sparked my interest.
Never hearing of this worldview before, I asked him about it.
I soon found out that I didn’t agree with what he saw as the proper role of government. I didn’t like. It went against everything I believed.
I could have easily shut my mind to him. I could have just ridiculed him and treated him like some insane asylum patient.
But I didn’t.
I kept an open mind.
Understanding his beliefs, the reasons behind it, and how he logically arrived at those beliefs was important to me.
How else could I better understand him and interact with his worldview?
I asked him questions about how different issues would be dealt with under his system. I asked for him to further explain if I didn’t wrap my head around it the first time. I repeated what he said to me to make sure I had it down properly.
Why did I care about getting his views right?
We disagreed on the issues.
His idea of government was a million miles away from mine.
It’s simple: I wanted to keep an open mind. I wanted to better understand this school of thought.
It would have been easy for me to ignore him. I could’ve gone back to my dorm, researched “theonomy,” made my rash judgments, and gone my merry way.
But I didn’t. I took the time to sit down with him and converse on the matter.
It’s the difference between keeping an open mind, and shutting your mind to new views and ideas.
It applies to your views as well.
Once you know what you believe, you keep analyzing, critiquing, and growing them.
If you keep an open mind, your views will undoubtedly shift and morph as you grow and learn.
It’s how life works.
Be Interested, not Defensive
When I talk politics with people, I usually run into a defensive attitude.
Either they think I’m waiting to pounce on them, or they’re insecure in their worldview.
Regardless of which one it is, a defensive attitude can break.
Defensive communicates aggression. It tells those around you that you’re afraid, insecure, even guilty.
A defensive attitude also communicates the frailness of your ideas.
“I’m going to tear down your ideas before you can tear down mine, or realize how unstable mine are.”
If you’re truly confident in what you believe, there should be no problem in freely conversing with others about your views.
It’s called the marketplace of ideas for a reason.
It’s not called the battleground of ideas, it’s a marketplace.
For your views to interest people, you have to show interest in theirs.
It’s a give and take.
It’s also something you do for yourself.
Keeping an attitude of interest, not defense, reminds you of what is important. You want to learn more. You want to discover new ideas, views, and systems.
It reminds you that not everything is about you “winning” the argument. You don’t have to break down their argument. You don’t have to defend yours.
What you want, is a constructive conversation. “Winning the argument” conversations aren’t constructive. And they certainly don’t have much value in them.
When you’re interested, rather than defensive, you mature in your beliefs. You grow through civil dialogue and questioning, not senseless arguing.