6 Ways To Talk To Your Friends Who "Don't Care" About Politics
If you're a politically passionate, motivated, and aware person, then the next several months will probably be an exciting and slightly terrifying time. And even though both major party candidates still have that "presumptive nominee" tag, that's just a formality. For all intents and purposes, the United States is now in the thick of a general election, with two towering figures (for very different reasons) squaring off and the presidency on the line. But not everyone will be so interested ― here are six ways to talk politics with friends who "don't care" about them.
Whether or not it's something you can relate to ― from a position of being highly attuned to the American political process, or highly informed about urgent issues facing society or the world ― some people just don't have the same enthusiasm for politics that you do. And sometimes that can land you in a slightly awkward position, if for example you get excited to talk about something that your friend clearly doesn't care one bit about.
It's something anyone who tends to obsess or geek out over politics has probably felt at least once in their life, so it's worth being prepared. Obviously, exercise your own best judgment about whether it's worth trying to engage with your apathetic friends on politics at all, but if you do, here are some tips to help bridge the divide:
1. Talk About Issues Rather Than Politicians Or Parties
If you're friends with someone who isn't into politics, it's still possible that they actually do care about some of the central issues politics deals with. For example, somebody might be disgusted to the point of apathy by the everyday, slow-moving grind between Congress, the judiciary, and the executive branch, but might still feel passionate about economic justice, or racial justice, or reproductive rights. As such, you might try cutting through the trappings of politics, instead focusing on specific issues and arguments without resorting to particular politicians or party platforms.
2. Find Political Debates Relevant To Their Lives
In general, people will feel more interest, urgency, or importance in conversations about issues that either have or could someday affect their lives (or the lives of their loved ones, obviously). There's some discretion you need to exercise here ― you should never assume you know what somebody's political beliefs will be just because they fit some kind of stereotypical image in your mind. But if you make it clear you want to get to know them better, and you earnestly want to understand where they're coming from, you'll be surprised how often people are willing to open up.
3. Let Them Do The Talking
This really can't be overstated: Sometimes, it's not fun to talk about politics if you're less informed or simply less enthusiastic, because people who're highly informed and super-enthusiastic can really dominate the conversation, regardless of their intentions.
If you want to talk politics with somebody who might normally be apathetic, this is a particularly good place to start ― ask whether they have any deeply held political beliefs, or if there's a particular reason they don't much care, then sit back and listen to what they say. Make no mistake, a little conscientious listening can go a long way.
4. Discuss Opposing Views Without Arguing
Sometimes, someone might tell you they don't care about politics as a way of avoiding a contentious or annoying conversation, and if you get that sense you should definitely respect their wishes. But a good way to help ease any tension or built-up expectation about talking politics is to demonstrate, through your words and deeds, that you're not going to get angry at people just because they disagree with you. Practice keeping an even keel, a sense of respect, and a willingness to agree to disagree.
5. Be Non-Judgmental
This is definitely related to agreeing to disagree, but it's also its own essential point to keep in mind ― beyond simply whether you're arguing vehemently with someone, people don't usually like to feel judged for revealing something about themselves, especially if it's on a topic they might have preferred to avoid in the first place. So do your very best to show that you're not looking down on them or judging their priorities just because they have different interests than you, because that's a surefire way to halt a conversation in its tracks.
6. Be Willing To Let It Go
Sometimes you simply have to accept that not everyone is like you, and that some people really don't care about politics. That doesn't mean you need to censor your own beliefs or passions, but it's important that you respect the differences between yourself and your friends, and are willing to drop the issue. Remember, like so many matters of deep, personal belief, nobody is obligated to reveal their political views to you, nor to pretend they're more interested by all of it than they are.