Hello, everyone! I hope you liked yesterday’s post that started the Political Politeness series. I had a comment from a reader, Marvin, who suggested I talk about the difference in listening to understand and listening to respond.
Too often people listen simply to reply. They’re planning their retort before the speaker has finished. We are simply too worried in ourselves (too absorbed with ourselves may be more like it). However, what do you hope to gain from listening only to respond to a political candidate? If that’s your goal, you were never interested in learning about their political stance to begin with. We can all learn, develop and grow from each other when we approach political conversations at a political forum with respect and a desire to truly understand where the other person is coming from.
If you are a political candidate, the same rule applies when debating your opponent. People are more interested in what YOU will do than they are in seeing you trying to “up” your opponent. Without respect, our political system is not as effective as it could be.
This is an aside, but reading from the 1942 Emily Post book, there is a section regarding “The Code of a Gentlemen.” Don’t worry, ladies. There’s a section for us, too. This chapter begins, “Far more important than any mere dictum of etiquette is the fundamental code of honor…” Yes. Everything about this, yes. Etiquette can only take us so far, which is why this blog cover much more than traditional etiquette. Honor. So many sayings and clichés cover this topic of kindness, including in politics, such as a the Golden Rule. However, given our topic, I’d like to end with a quote from President Abraham Lincoln that I hope we all keep in mind. “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
Next up in our political politeness series: How to address politicians and elected officials.
Thank you for reading!
Political discussions can quickly become political arguments. Let’s face it. It’s rare we ever change someone’s political opinion to that of our own. We all have areas within politics that are near and dear to our hearts. Therefore, what may be important to us may not be important to someone else, rendering your political argument a moot point.
Since my trips to both Austin and D.C., I’ve promised you a political etiquette mini-series, and I’m here to deliver. I’d like to start with the basics. Unless you are at a political forum or arena (appropriate word, given some of the outcomes I’ve witnessed), the best course of action is to truly steer clear of political debates. This is not to say you can’t have conversations of depth. It is to imply that it’s rare for a political discussion to have a change of someone’s thoughts.
If you are actually at a political forum, keep the discussion relevant to the topic at hand. Allow the candidate the opportunity to complete a thought before you respond. With any other attendee at the forum, remember they are not the candidate, regardless of how supportive they may seem.
Taboo topics are anything personally related. It does not matter if the candidate’s son has 50 tattoos. It does not matter if his or her daughter is obese. What matters, in this capacity, is the candidate’s ability to serve. There’s no sense in wasting an opportunity bashing a candidate personally, when you could use the time to learn more about his or her political beliefs.
In person, the term congressman is usually in reference to someone in the House of Representatives at the national level, such as Congressman Smith. It may, however, be used for the members of Senate, as well. Erroneously, “senator” is sometimes used. The term senator may not be used for someone in the House of Representatives.
In the end, we are all more than our political affiliation or lack thereof, and it’s important we keep this in mind.