Society is losing the art of embracing and respecting different political views. The divide gets bigger and bigger, so it can be a challenge to remember to not let the negativity squirm its way into our personal lives and drive wedges between each other.

Debating my spouse hasn’t magically made me change views, and, in fact, our conversations usually solidify my stance even further, but it has helped me to value the tool of respecting those who don’t  agree with everything I have to say.

The biggest thing I try to remember when talking to anyone who challenges me is that generalizations are disrespectful and most times inflated in our imaginations. We often have a stereotype in our head of who someone is based off the media or gossip in our own circles.

I’m thankful when I come in contact with real live people who think differently than I do, so I can be humble enough to see that humans with views speak louder than what we assume the worst of them to be.

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I do my best to ask questions when I’m talking to someone with opposing views. I try to be curious about their experiences because if they can help me see how they see the world, then I know there’s a good chance I’ll understand it. I can acknowledge where they’re coming from, even if I don’t share the same views.

Any heated debate can go sour and listening goes out the door as we become aggressive to “win.” When we forget to check our ego at the door, we focus on being misled that we are right and they are wrong. When that is our guiding belief, there’s little room for active listening. It’s a slippery slope to anger and incredulous disbelief that someone could think such a way when I forget to listen and be quiet sometimes in conversations. Trust me, I’ve been on the slope several times, and it’s not easy to get back on track once you’re sliding down, clinging to your ego.

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So, yes, my vote canceled out my husband’s, but I have to accept his canceled out mine. Neither of us is right, and neither of us is wrong. Sometimes we do a great job of accepting that, and other times we fail by getting frustrated at the differences rather than being curious about them. It’s a daily exercise in remembering that loving those with different views takes patience and a willingness to ask questions and drop the rapid judgment  that comes with assuming the worst of someone.

As frustrating as we might find them to be, they are just as frustrated with us. That might be the one thing we all can agree on.

Rebecca Rine is a writer living with her family in Waynesville, Ohio. Her work can be found at RebeccaRine.com

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