We’ve passed the 100-day mark—less than 100 days until the presidential election that is. I’m of mixed mind about this news. On the one hand we’re getting closer to the election, but on the other hand, before we get through these next 100 days, the rhetoric and the advertising are sure to skyrocket. Along with that increase in noise and hype is the tendency to ask others about their opinion and to engage in political conversation.
I often advise people to avoid certain topics when at social gatherings or during downtime at business, specifically sex, religion and, yes, politics. But somehow during this 100-day season, I suspect completely avoiding politics when questions get asked or comments get made is not a very realistic piece of advice.
I was reminded of all this on the golf course just the other day. Inadvertently, one of the members of my foursome made a political comment. Quickly a few other opinions went back and forth, and then one member said, “Maybe we better not talk about this here.” Just like that all four of us realized that the topic was better shut down. Not another word was spoken about it. Back to golf and another beautiful afternoon in summertime Vermont.
The way the situation was handled was a perfect example of how to deal with a political discussion that may be better not engaged in. The phrase the golfer used did not point a finger at anyone or presume that one point of view had precedence over another. That’s how to disengage when you are uncomfortable with the direction of any conversation. Speak up without being judgmental, and suggest to change the subject If in the unlikely event that the others don’t agree and you’re still uncomfortable, then you may need to remove yourself from the group.
Conversely, join in when you are comfortable. But also show consideration for everyone involved. If someone is uncomfortable or the discussion is getting personal, then be willing to assist in moving the conversation off topic. Their friendship is more important and more long lasting than the 100 days that surely will pass.
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About the author
Since 2004, Peter Post has tackled readers' questions in The Boston Sunday Globe's weekly business etiquette advice column, Etiquette at Work. Post is the co-author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business" and conducts business etiquette seminars across the country. In October 2003 his book "Essential Manners For Men" was released and quickly became a New York Times best seller. He is also the author of "Essential Manners for Couples," "Playing Through–A Guide to the Unwritten Rules of Golf," and co-author of "A Wedding Like No Other." Post is Emily Post's great-grandson. His media appearances include "CBS Sunday Morning," CBS's "The Early Show," NBC's "Today," ABC's "Good Morning America," and "Fox News."