The bitter U.S. presidential race has led to heated arguments among many Americans. But there are ways to lower the tension and prevent spirited discussions about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton from getting too hostile, psychologists say.
“De-escalate when arguments get too personal,” said Emanuel Maidenberg, a clinical professor of psychiatry and biobehavioral sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles.
“The purpose of many discussions around politics is to express and exchange points of view – not to win. Be the first to de-escalate,” he said in a university news release.
The American Psychological Association reported last week that more than half of U.S. adults felt very or somewhat stressed by the vitriolic campaigns. Those results stemmed from an August poll – conducted well before disturbing recent reports of hacked Clinton State Department emails and sexual misconduct accusations against Trump.
Even if you fervently support one candidate, it’s important to question others about their views, Maidenberg said.
“It can be difficult to show understanding when you strongly disagree with a friend’s view, especially if it upsets your sense of right and wrong. But asking questions about why they feel that way – rather than attacking – is worth the effort,” Maidenberg said.
You need to remember that political views are only a small part of what makes a person who they are. Also, limit your exposure to political coverage in the media. “There’s a difference between being informed and being overwhelmed,” Maidenberg said.
Also, take time to consider the implications before you share your political views on Facebook or Twitter, he suggested.
“If you get into an argument online, remind yourself that such virtual experiences are only one way to share and interact with others,” Maidenberg said. “In person interactions are likely to be more satisfying and rewarding the long run.”
And share your concerns about the election with family and friends. It’s important to share your anxious feelings with others close to you. Chances are they are feeling the same way,” Maidenberg said.
The political division in our country is greater than any other point in my lifetime. This election appears to have galvanized that divide. I believe most of us are very unhappy with the inefficiency of our government. In business it’s called micromanaging. Government has grown to the point that it mettles in everything and rarely does a good job.
And yet compared to the rest of the world, American government is the gold standard and has been for hundreds of years. As my wife reminds me, “These are first world problems”. We have more than enough food and a roof over our heads. Yes, I complain about the performance of my IRA but my government is not going to come into my home and arrest me.
Unfortunately, that is not true for all Americans. Many of us live in poverty and the opportunities for education and advancement are quite limited. The widening gulf between the haves and have-nots stimulates unrest.
The Bottom Line:
regardless of the outcome of this election our new president will have limited ability, at best, to solve our issues. We must come together as a nation, as a people to really move forward and improve the quality of living for all.
Source: October 18, 2016 National Institutes of Health
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