After months of experimenting, I’ve discovered how to make talking about Hillary and Donald fun. Here’s the story.
It all started in a Starbucks in Boston, when a friendly conversation deteriorated with a guy flipping me off and leaving. I was stunned. I thought the conversation was going quite nicely. Even civil.
Welcome to the 2016 election, right?
Since then I’ve been experimenting. Through trial and error (and more than a few awkward moments) I have discovered that there are least three moves that can pivot a conversation that is tense and hateful into something fun and loving.
Move 1: Listen actively and mirror back everything. When a man in San Bernardino said “What moron could possibly vote for Hillary?” I simply mirrored back “So it sounds like you feel really strongly that Hillary would not be a good president.” When he asked me what I thought I simply asked him to “tell me more; it sounds like you have really been thinking about this a lot.” He then started to relax and acknowledge how sad he is about this whole political cycle.
Move 2: Move the conversation to something specific and personal. I was having coffee in Sacramento with an old friend who was venting his frustration with Trump and passionately supporting Hillary Clinton. When he tried to get me to join I instead said, “Now, wait, remind me, was your family politically active? I’m wondering where you got all of this passion for politics!” This diverted our conversation into a lovely exchange of stories about to our childhood homes, families and neighborhoods.
Move 3: Cue the person to talk about something that is positive. On many occasions I have asked people “What is something that you are glad the federal government does for us?”, or “Where do you see the greatest chance for the United States to change the rest of the world for the good?” or “If you could make one improvement in our government, what would it be?”
These conversational “moves” work! People go from tense and critical to relaxed and positive. More importantly, doing this makes it fun to talk politics and deepens human connection!
So, let’s do this. We do not have to be slaves to negativity. We can create positivity, blessing and connection in a political season that badly needs it! (And let me know how it goes!)