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Friday, October 23, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Carolyn Hax: Rules for respectful political discourse

Washington Post

While I’m away, readers give the advice. – Carolyn

On political discourse

My wife and I have strongly held political views, and many close family members and close friends do also. I don’t shy away from discussing it and very rarely does the discussion descend into angry exchanges. My own personal rules are: (1) I state what I believe as a matter of conscience and try my best to allow that others have conscientious beliefs, too. (2) Never, never “name call.” (3) Always, always search for something we both agree on. (4) Try to get agreement that we both want what’s best for our country, we just disagree on how to get it.

These rules have served me well for years and I have many warm relationships with family and friends who believe the polar opposite of the things I believe. Hasn’t worked every time, but the exceptions are rare. – K.

How about speaking honestly from the heart?: “It’s great that you care so much about what’s going on in this country, and that you are passionate about your beliefs. We see things differently, and our views are as important to us as yours are to you. We could spend this time arguing with each other, but that seems like a frustrating way to spend our visit. Instead, we could try taking turns just listening to each other with an open mind, asking questions to understand where each other is coming from. Or, we could just agree to put politics aside and spend our time together [fill in preferred activities].” – P.

Listen respectfully with an open mind but don’t argue. It amazes that when viewed through the lens of preconceived opinions, the same facts lead to such opposing conclusions, and no one attempts to consider the other’s viewpoint. Does just turning assumptions around open your mind, even a little? – Passionate Moderate

Email Carolyn at, follow her on Facebook at carolyn.hax or chat with her online at 9 a.m. each Friday at

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