When is the last time you brought up religion at a family function? How about politics? If you’re like me, you’ve replaced these topics with some light banter about the weather or how great the Packers are going to do this year. This is an attempt to bring those potentially contentious topics back. The caveat here is the fact that I want to do it without either party walking away mad. In order to have this happen, a few ground rules need to be in place. Those ground rules boil down to don’t be a jerk, and don’t try to prove you’re right. Go into the conversation simply to share an idea and hopefully get a few new ideas in return to mull over for yourself.
Usually when you do get into talking about one of these otherwise off limits topics, you’re going to do it with like minded people. You’ll spend a few minutes up to a few hours, depending on how much alcohol is involved, telling each other how right you are, and you’ll both gain absolutely nothing out of the conversation other than feeling better about yourself and thinking how “cool” Jane is for agreeing with you. Did you learn anything new? Did you learn anything that may challenge the ideas you already hold? The answer to both questions is more often than not, NO.
Seek out one of these conversations to challenge yourself. Feel uncomfortable for a while, realizing you don’t know everything and that maybe, just maybe the crotchety old man, or the hippie next to you may have a really interesting way of looking at something. Worse comes to worse, you’ve challenged your own thoughts enough where you feel even more comfortable with them, and you’ve got more reasons why you feel that way. More than likely you’ll walk away with an idea to ponder, a funny story, or a whole new outlook on something that changes your path.
Maybe you don’t start with family, but find somebody that differs from you, have a conversation with them, and start off by saying you want to talk about whatever, but your goal isn’t to change their mind, or necessarily yours, you just want to be interested for a minute. What’s the worst that could happen? Share this with somebody, and let me know what conversations you get yourself into!