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How to Argue Respectfully in an Election Season

how to argue respectfully in an election year“He’s a friend of mine but he is so into Trump that I have to curb my urge to punch him. How could he even think that Trump should be president? I never knew he was so shallow.”

“My spouse is for Hillary. How could she be? Hillary thinks she can get away with anything. She’s such a crook. I’d love to knock some sense into my wife’s head.”

How do you handle such differences with people who you otherwise would call your friend? How can you chat with someone when you’re vehemently opposed to their political beliefs? When you do communicate, do you have to end up arguing like 4-year-olds?

“He didn’t say that.”
“He did so.”
“You don’t listen; he did.”
“You think that’s bad? Do you know what she said?”
“She did not.”
“Yes, she did. Everyone says she did.”
“Yeah, like everyone’s right.”
“Give me your phone. I’ll Google it. Show you how wrong you are.”
“Use your own phone, idiot.”
“Duh, haven’t got it with me.”
“Oh, soooo sorry to hear that. Left your brains at home as well? Gotta go, moron.”

Yes, the political season is in full swing. It may be that you’re on the same page as your friends regarding who should hold the highest office of this nation. Or, it may be that you’re miles apart in your thinking. If so, here are seven do’s and don’ts that just might save your relationships:

  • Don’t name call
  • Don’t curse
  • Don’t lose your cool
  • Don’t be disrespectful
    “You have no idea what you’re talking about.”
  • Don’t exaggerate what the other person said
    “So, you think anybody who ever told a lie is a damn liar?”
  • Don’t answer setup questions
    “You think everything’s perfectly fine in this country and nothing needs to be changed?”
  • Don’t expect to change another person’s mind. Simply state what you think is true.
  • Do make your point with a statement, not a question or a lecture
    “The way I look at it is…..”
  • Do be curious about how the other person thinks. Ask questions about how he (or she) came to this position. Sometimes, it all makes sense once you understand someone’s background and experience.
  • Do look for a point of agreement. Even if you differ strongly on 90 percent of a candidate’s position, there’s probably something that you both agree on. If so, state it respectfully.
  • Do tell a personal story that illustrates why you believe what you do. (People tend to soften with personal stories.)
  • Do frame your position in a way that makes sense to you rather than arguing from the other person’s position
    “I’m not against your candidate; I’m for reducing violence in this country.”
  • Do acknowledge that there are no simple answers to complex issues
  • Do be calm or passionate; be logical or emotional. But end the conversation before it deteriorates to an argument that you will both regret.

Even the best of friends can agree to disagree on important issues. Do not lose a good friend or alienate a family member over this election. It’s not worth it.

© 2016


How to Argue Respectfully in an Election Season

Linda Sapadin, Ph.D

Dr. Linda Sapadin, psychologist, success coach and author is proud to announce the publication of her new book, Overcoming Your Procrastination: College Student Edition – Advice for 6 Personality Styles available on Amazon. Now more than ever with remote learning, this book is a must-have. If you’re a perfectionist, dreamer, worrier, crisis-maker, defier or please, grab your copy. No longer a student? Get my book How to Beat Procrastination in the Digital Age – 6 Change Programs for 6 Personality Styles. Visit to subscribe to my free e-newsletter. Contact her at

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APA Reference
Sapadin, L. (2018). How to Argue Respectfully in an Election Season. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 25, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 16 Aug 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.