NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Can two otherwise friendly Americans talk politics without driving each other crazy?
We'll leave the election issue where it belongs - with the voters on Nov. 6. But as for discussing politics, there's no need to lose a friend or family member over barbed talk of favored candidates, policies, and parties.
- Keep it positive. Voss Roberts says both parties in a political discussion should be "honest and sincere" and expect the same courtesy from each other, even if they differ politically.
- Remember who you're talking to. If you stoop to viewing your friend or family member as a stereotype or caricature, Voss Roberts says, you're on your way to hostile discourse. Emphasize seeing others as living, thinking persons and you've laid the foundation for a civil discussion.
- Take an "apples to apples" approach. The great spiritualists were able to keep things in perspective in debate. They could, as Voss Roberts puts it, avoid comparing the lofty ideals of one side with missteps or gaffes from the other. By framing the debate as one between track records and not disputing the idealism of the other party, Americans can keep emotions out of the discussion and focus on policy.
- Be humble Voss Roberts says a healthy dose of self-criticism can keep political discussions on a stable course. "We can only learn from one another if we are able to acknowledge our own mistakes and admit that we do not have all the answers," she says.
- View your discussion partner with respect. Sure, it's tough to respect someone you disagree with politically. After all, their entire world view is wrong, in your opinion. But what if you could learn something in the debate that leaves you better informed?