The election spirit over the past three months was unlike anything Filipinos have experienced before. It gave birth to hilarious memes, grand rallies attended by thousands, and LSS-worthy campaign songs that can make anyone tear up. But throughout those months, every Filipino knew that after casting their votes, things might never be the same again — for the nation and for personal relationships, too. Politics is always a touchy subject for many since each person holds their own ideologies. Sure, some think dodging it is the way to go, but that tactic could only work for so long. If you’re still unsure how to move forward with this dilemma, consider these tips as your guide for post-elections relationship damage control.
Never let name-calling and hurtful insults get in the way
In every discourse, politically related or not, there’s always a possibility that one may resort to below-the-belt comments. Sometimes, acts of violence get involved, too. Sinnott-Armstrong, author of Think Again: How to Reason and Argue, tells us not to be that person.
“If we readjust our view of arguments — from a verbal fight or tennis game to a reasoned exchange through which we all gain mutual respect and understanding — then we change the very nature of what it means to win an argument.” He says in an interview with TIME. It takes certain mastery to be level-headed during difficult conversations, but if that means saving your relationship with them, maybe it’s all worth it.
Settle it privately
Social media has emerged as a space where anyone can share what’s on their mind — including controversial opinions. While it’s tempting to respond to political beliefs that oppose yours, engaging in online bardagulan often only escalates the situation and causes more conflicts.
There’s a reason why social apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, to name a few, have a private messaging feature. You always have an option to reach out privately once the discussion starts to get ugly. It saves both camps time of unnecessary arguments and keeps you away from lurking Mariteses or trolls of the internet. After all, not everything in your life should be for the public’s eye.
Take some time off
Let’s face it, politics has become quite stressful for many, and it was further heightened when the campaign season kicked off. Even though the elections are over, it doesn’t mean broken relationships would go back to normal in a snap. If the tensions are still high, try to sit down and breathe.
People tend to speak from a place of anger when they’re upset, and it doesn’t usually end well most of the time for those involved. Take as much time as you need to process everything before engaging in a confrontation.
Listen to what each side has to say
Listening is second nature to us, but active listening is an art form on its own. It demands empathy and a clear understanding of when to speak to have a meaningful conversation. The concept of active listening usually poses a challenge, especially when you have other motives. It’s a big no-no if you want to restore whatever’s lost.
“To listen well, you need to first open your ears, eyes, and heart.” California State University psychology professor Beverly Palmer said in an article in The Conversation. “Examine your biases so you can hear without judgment. Suspend your self-interest and stay with what the other person is saying. Then tell that person what you heard.”
Watch how you speak
How many times have you been misunderstood over the way you speak? We’ve all been there. According to Sociologist Joseph Cho Man-kit, it’s crucial to speak in a calm and respectful manner to avoid escalating an argument. Otherwise, the two parties might reach a point where both sides are not willing to listen to each other. The tone and volume of your voice have weight in conveying your point across. Doing that without sounding condescending requires outsmarting what you feel at the moment.
Are you angry? Hurt? Watch out for your trigger points, and take a few deep breaths if you need to. “Allocate 20 or 30 percent of your attention to your bodily sensations, such as your breathing rate or body movements, to prevent yourself from being carried away by [strong] emotions like anger,” Cho adds.
Add a dose of humor
Political discussions don’t have to be spared from humor, just like how you can’t always take yourself too seriously. Take this tip from HelpGuide: laughter opens us up, freeing us to express what we truly feel and allowing our deep, genuine emotions to rise to the surface. Whether it’s a corny dad joke or poking fun at yourself, maybe that’s all it takes to break whatever wall stands in the middle.
Seek to understand, not win
Humans have a competitive side to them. We’ve seen during the campaign period how people supported their respective political bets to help them win. However, a mindset of winning an argument to prove you’re right shouldn’t always be the go-to strategy to resolve a conflict.
Australian philosopher and ethicist Dr. Matt Beard hit it on the head by saying, “If your sole intention is to change their mind in order to change their vote, people might feel like you’re manipulating your relationship with them, which isn’t going to leave them feeling open to what you’ve got to say.”
At the same time, you should be open-minded to what your loved one has to say and not just nod along for the sake of listening. As much as possible, avoid focusing your energy on crafting a response or rebuttal. “But once you’ve set the scene for a meaningful conversation, you’ve got to actually say something. And it’s worth thinking about both what you say and how you say it.” Dr. Beard explains.
Know when to let it go
Sadly, there are situations where political differences need more than hours of chitchat over coffee to settle things. What’s worst, both camps may never find common ground at all. If that’s the case, maybe you should let it go for now. Keep in mind that some people are raised through beliefs passed on by older generations. Despite the presence of the internet and other easily accessible platforms for information, it might take time for them to be open to contrasting views. At this point, save your energy because getting stuck in endless arguments will only drain you.
How has Halalan 2022 affected your relationships? Comment down below.