Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Talking Politics

Dear Madame L,

How can I handle people talking about politics in a disagreeable way? And by "disagreeable," I don't mean that they disagree with me; I mean that they are rude and that they express their opinions in a loud and in-your-face manner.


Too Timid to Speak Up

Dear Timid,

If you don't want to speak up, you can leave the room. That's the only suggestion Madame L has for the timid. If you want to stop being so timid, Madame L has some other suggestions:

One is, still, to leave the room. Madame L has witnessed people doing that, and has seen the outspoken rude person's face register surprise and chagrin as he realizes he has been rude.

Another is to speak up with your own opinion. Madame L has seen people do that, too, and it seems very effective, as long as it's done in politely. (Because if it's done otherwise, not only does it not make your point, it reinforces the other person's rudeness.)

For example, Madame L was recently in a small room with seven other people when one of them made a rude comment about how "Obamacare" was going to make health care unaffordable because there are fewer doctors now than there were some years ago. Another person said, very mildly, "The Affordable Care Act is not the reason we have fewer doctors now," and another person said, "That's right." So the rude person observed that he wasn't gaining any friends or converts to his political views, and stopped talking about that.

Another is to speak up with a suggestion that politics is not an appropriate topic of conversation. Madame L has also seen people do that, and it has also been effective, although the offender did huff and puff a little before switching off.

Madame L invites her other Dear Readers to offer their suggestions, particularly ideas that they have seen that have effectively smoothed over the discomfort of people who aren't interested in discussing politics.

Best wishes,

Madame L

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