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September 12

Politics and bedfellows

Filed under: News — posted by Breakup Girl @ 5:49 am

According to a new poll, 77 percent of people avoid discussing politics. Which is funny, ’cause around me these days, at least 77 percent of people can’t stop. But anyway: this survey, conducted by VitalSmarts and the authors of Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, suggests that they dodge the topic not because they don’t care, but because conversations about politics with friends and family can be nasty, brutish, and not short enough. Nearly half of respondents, according to a press release, “have had bad experiences in the past when sharing their political views — and rather than risk a verbal battle, they hunker down and shut up.” And: “As soon as the discussion escalates or becomes the least bit controversial, only 28 percent feel they can control their own temper and only 23 percent believe they can handle if it the other person gets upset.”

Yeah, I know. This is not good for the political conversation, small or large. “This is a tragedy for democracy,” said Joseph Grenny, co-author of Crucial Conversations. “Our founding fathers believed spirited public discourse was the crucible of democratic decision-making. And here we have evidence that dialogue has all but ceased. The result is a public whose opinions are rarely tested and challenged.” (His latter point is taken, especially since we so often hang out with our own choirs, but “dialogue” has hardly “ceased.” Um: political blogs?)

But stay with me; I’m getting to my — apolitical — question. “People no longer feel safe discussing politics,” says Grenny. “These discussions quickly turn from casual conversation into personal attacks on people’s values and interests.” Especially now, apparently, with 66 percent of people, according to this study, “believing the current political race is more controversial than in past elections.” [Supercomputer? Are we sure that’s not 166 percent? — BG]

Okay. So never mind friends and family — what about more-than friends? Promising dates? On the one hand, it does always seem advisable to avoid potentially controversial topics (politics, man skirts) during early courtship. On the other, especially these days, it really does seem unavoidable, especially if your first date is at MooseBurger King. I mean hey, it comes up.

So BG wants to know: How are you handling that little conversational dance these days? Especially that — perhaps now more than ever? — your date’s red or blue status may be a deal-breaker for you? (Of course, depending on how or where you met, like at the Ron Paul dance marathon, you’ll already know.) How do you balance the demands of getting-to-know-you with your own personal need-to-know (if any)? (And of course, even planning to vote the same way doesn’t mean you feel the same way about what’s going on.) In other words, no matter what, plenty of room for other sparks to fly. So what, in terms of political conversation, is your dating campaign strategy these days?


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