What comes to your mind when you think how to discuss controversial topics with your friends? A couple of things come to my mind what pizza toppings are best, does the toilet paper face up or down, college football teams, you know the basics. Some more difficult topics come to mind too like politics, religion, money, sex, parenting etc. These are some of topics of conversations that can make you feel a little awkward.
The Really Difficult Topics
There are some things that are obvious. Topics like religion and politics are usually topics that are known not to brought up at family dinners or at thanksgiving with everyone around. What are your thoughts about talking about those controversial topics with your friends? Do you feel you are able to be open with them? Can you share your opinion and be safe doing so? I feel this is something that really screams it depends. You might have friends that you feel you can be open to and then you might have some that you feel have some very strong opinions and it might be best to avoid those topics.
It is interesting how some of these topics can make or break a relationship, but I will have to agree with a little bit of that. Some things people just can’t moved past like someone’s choices because of their religious affiliation or their beliefs because of their political lining or how taboo the topic of sex can be, but you might have a friend that is very comfortable with that.
Know Your Values
I find myself being really open to hearing people’s opinions about things and it ends up being my choice if I want to share how I developed my values. I think it really stems back to that, values, and how important your values are to yourself. If you find yourself being friends with a group of people who cannot ever have a conversation about sex, love, or relationships because that is private, are you truly being yourself? You might be able to be yourself with another group and this group benefits you in other ways. Whatever the reason it may be, I think it is important to know your values and what is important to you and how you can feel safe. The moment when you start to feel unsafe or attacked can be when things can get uneasy for us.
I think that goes for the other way around, too. Some of our friends and family members have very strong values and views to certain things in the world. These views and values may be hurtful and against some of our values. It might be best to take some precautions if you find yourself having to be near them. It could either look like having an even tone discussion about not feeling comfortable and having to separate yourself from the relationship. It might look like some self-care to prepare you to be around them. Whatever it looks like, if you feel your mental health is going to be compromised from these discussions take the steps it takes for you to feel safe.
Have an open mind
For those that enjoy having conversations with friends that could interesting and controversial, what does this look like for you? Is it at a casual dinner and it is the normal think you talk about? Is it at home after a few drinks? Is it at the Friendsgiving you are having with a group of people? Having conversations that involve either the same values or different can sometimes be some of the best conversations, but they can also a little eye opening about the person in front of you. Before diving down the slope of politics, region, money etc, make sure you are prepared for the opposite side of yours.
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