Well, what exactly does it mean to be controversial anyway? Essentially, it means anything that is likely to cause significant opposition or disagreement, especially public disagreement. When you run a business online and through social media, you open yourself up to potential controversy every day. So how do you talk politics without being controversial?
I can hear some of you thinking that the answer to this question is very simply, “Don’t talk politics.” And you would be correct. That is a foolproof way not to end up in a political controversy. The challenges we have faced in 2020 have everyone on edge and it seems anything you say can end up being fodder for the enemy. No thank you. But there is a way to engage in political conversations that don’t lead to controversy and I am sharing three (3) of them here.
3 Ways to Engage in Political Conversation
Discuss Issues, Not Opinions
This can be a tricky one because our opinion about the issues determine the way we vote. But you don’t have to share your opinion in order to highlight an issue and how it will affect your audience. The best way to stay on topic with issues and not opinions is to
–Stick to the facts: Stay away from statements that are not true and cannot be proven.
–Use Statistics: While all statistics can be debated, when you share facts AND figures you are less likely to encounter a strong oppositional response.
Discussing opinions will naturally lead to debate and I’ll share more about why later in this post.
Be True to Your Voice
Nothing gets an online debate started more quickly than hypocrisy. And in today’s cancel culture it only takes one misstep to wash away years of hard work. That is incredibly scary. But when you remain true to your voice and brand, it’s not likely you’ll be seen as controversial.
If you have been anti-chocolate ice cream your whole life and all of a sudden one day you come out promoting chocolate ice cream, that will certainly raise some eyebrows. Those who have followed you because they shared your love for vanilla ice cream might feel betrayed. Others may think you’ve sold out. Worse yet, people who make it their job to scrutinize and crucify people will have a frozen field day with this apparent flip flop.
But when you’re true to your voice, even on issues that can be divisive, you’re likely to get more agreement than controversy. Your audience is there because they appreciate what you provide them, and that includes your opinion. Especially on issues where they may be hesitant to speak out.
Listen As Much As You Speak
“One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” –Bryant H. McGill
In the late 1960s, Carol Hanisch, feminist and civil rights advocate, coined the term “The personal is political.” This statement emphasizes the connection between personal issues that affect people in their everyday lives and the practice of politicizing those issues to implement policy for or against them. Many political arguments begin because one person feels they aren’t being heard; that disagreement with their opinion is equal to rejection of them as a person. When that happens, they will do what they think is necessary to be heard – speak louder, dig in deeper, and oppose anything that would support the rejection they feel. It is possible to disagree with what one says and not reject who they are.
Be a more active and engaged listener to avoid controversy in political conversations. As Steve Covey very aptly stated, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Giving another person space and opportunity to express themselves, even if you fundamentally disagree with them, opens the door for a deeper and more thoughtful conversation. When you listen with the intent to understand, you may begin to see the other person apart from your disagreement. If you can empathize with a person’s humanity even though you disagree with their point of view, the opportunity to settle peacefully may arrive.
Are you engaging in political conversation on your platforms right now? Have you used other methods to avoid controversy in the process? Let us know if they’re working so we can share them as well.