Why? Well it’s not because you are some humbugging Scrooge. Instead, it’s because you face the same scenario roughly every year with family. At first, the pleasantries and updates from family serve as amusing entertainment. You even got along with that relative (you know who).
However, the conversation quickly turns to politics.
The dinner table transitions from a place that allows free exchange of ideas on policies into an arena with frequent shouting matches that raise your blood pressure beyond your doctor’s recommendation.
If you’re familiar with this situation, you understand it’s hard not to yell and score some major political points. However, how many arguments have you ever won by yelling? How many views change by this strategy? The truth is that your actions at the dinner table can have a greater impact than you ever imagined. It’s more than just scoring political points. It’s about changing the hearts and minds of those we love. How do we accomplish this task? We must be strategic in how we communicate.
Starting off, we must first remember that those around us, including family members, have formed opinions based off their life experiences. People don’t magically come up with conclusions without exposure. Because of this, we must communicate by asking them why they support a policy. For example, let’s take the issue of ObamaCare (Affordable Care Act). One of your family members might tell you: “I support Obamacare because it allows more people to be insured and I think people deserve to be covered.”
Now you might be thinking at that exact moment that Obamacare hurts our nation’s economy. At that exact moment, you may also be getting upset and want to force your counterpoint to your family member. However, instead of counter-reacting, take a moment and acknowledge the commonality we have with our ObamaCare supporting family members. Yes, believe it or not, there is a commonality.
Your response in this scenario should be, “I too want to see people have insurance coverage, but the kind of coverage and how people get covered looks vastly different. With a health care policy that embraces competition between insurance companies and giving people more choices, insurance rates can decrease and more people can have access to better coverage.”
We should communicate our commonalities in our discussion to frame our narrative and forwardly drive the conversation. This technique allows us to have positive discussions and hopefully better results in convincing our loved ones that the free market is the best solution for our nation.
Now, I do not expect this conversation to change the opinions of family members overnight. After all, our experiences and influences in our lives shape our opinions. However, if conversations end with a positive experience, family members may be more open to future discussions, whether it is from you or by their neighbor.
No matter what, it should be our goal to help positively change hearts and minds. If we are going to be successful, though, we must first change the way we communicate.