We do not generally recommend the topics of politics, religion, or past relationships on first or second dates, but the more we talked about this advice these past few weeks, a different scenario emerged.
This turbulent election and its influence on America’s political future impact us all, no matter who our candidate for President was. The aggressive tone of discourse, lack of respect, kindness, and layers of dishonesty were frightening. We can’t help but think about how this bitterly divisive climate could affect conversations on a first date, or even as you may consider a second or third.
Two days after the election, we met with an admired and well-respected judge in Boston. The shocking and unexpected results of the election came up organically. It was clear that he voted for a different candidate than either of us did. Almost immediately, we both sensed our dismissive, judgmental attitude because we did not share his views. Then something surprising happened. As we asked for more details about his decision, we observed each other listening carefully to his thoughtful and (for him) difficult decision which focused on two specific issues, one of which we knew very little about. We both found ourselves making a conscious decision to listen and to learn, even if we didn’t share his opinion.
Reasonable minds can disagree. Agreeing to disagree after the thoughtful dialogue is an important piece of communication, and one of the tenets of our democracy. If we had shut down the conversation with the judge by suggesting that talking about politics at our first meeting was probably not a good idea, we would have missed the opportunity to get to know a different point of view from a thoughtful, smart and interesting man. Successful professional and personal relationships must work through even the most highly charged and sensitive topics to succeed.
Early dates should be fun and interesting, but if your mind is on something else that is pressing for attention, and you are feeling the burden of these political times, consider being open to listening and learning.
We suggest that if politics is heavy on your mind, (we know it is on ours), that you could bring up the topic by addressing an opinion with some of these possible “I” statements. By not asking questions, and expressing your feelings and opinions, you are accepting responsibility and projecting confidence, and your date has the option whether or not to engage in the conversation.
- The campaign and the election have been very upsetting for me.
- I was surprised by how many Americans felt their voices have not been heard.
- These feel like such troubling times with American values of inclusiveness and tolerance in the country so divided.
- I find the question of the electoral college and the popular vote an interesting topic in terms of how the need for representation has changed.
- The fact that 43% of eligible voters didn’t vote is staggering. Voting is a privilege.
- I’ve been thinking about the important and
- complicated roles of the news media and social media in this election.
- If the President-elect takes actions that are antithetical to issues I believe in and have supported, or if those actions interrupt our democratic laws, it’s important to me to find a way not to be complacent.
We wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving and thank you for your valued relationship with us. (no matter who got your vote!!)