Dr. J Thomas Smith

Source: Dr. J Thomas Smith / Radio One Houston

Most people would agree that it is a good idea to avoid discussing religion and politics with friends and co-workers — and in some cases, family.  Clearly the reason is that these topics are very polarizing. Since we are in the political season, let’s take a look at politics and why discussion of politics is not the best idea.

People’s Beliefs Determine Their Vote

Voting and whom one votes for is an emotionally charged topic because the vote is rooted in their beliefs.  Their vote reflects who they are.  So if a person is raised in such a way that they believe the weak should be taken care of by the strong, a politician who promises loads of entitlements are likely to get that person’s vote.

Individuals raised to value working hard for what you want will believe that one should get out and be productive to get their own rather than have the government provide for them.  Consequently, they will vote against politicians they perceive as taking their tax dollars to give to others who choose to be unproductive and won’t work to help support the country’s economy.

Considering that changing someone’s beliefs is difficult, to say the least, it is not wise to even try. In a politically charged environment it is better to, as they say “pivot“, or keep silent. Arguing for your  views on political subjects will not earn you any friends.

Politics Have No Right or Wrong

When it comes to politics, there is no right or wrong answer.  As an illustration, if the topic is sexual assault, most rational people will agree that it is wrong and should not be tolerated under any circumstances. On the other hand, whether a politician like Donald Trump is “smart” because he hasn’t paid taxes for a number of years, can be a subject of debate forever.

Many will say that Trump is indeed smart because he avoided taxes by applying the law to his benefit and he should not be criticized for his business intelligence. Others will say that school teachers are paying more taxes and by evading taxes, Trump is not doing his part to support the country.

Political Opinions Are Not Black and White

The Presidential Debate have people just as polarized. Whether, the election is “rigged” and whether Trump should say he will accept the results of the election is another political topic that will be debated for years to come.  Who won?  Who lost?  Who was more truthful?  Who looked more presidential?  All topics for debate.

So who is right? No one can say for certain.  No matter who expresses it, it is an opinion.  Opinions are not black or white, but rather many shades of grey.  So if you talk politics with your family, friends and co-workers, it won’t be long before many will begin feeling depressed.

Political Discussions and Friends

You may feel stressed because those around you don’t accept your point of view. This can cause bitterness and more stress simply because people are not in agreement on the candidates.

This is unfortunate considering your close friends and family are more important to you than Clinton or Trump. When you need help in your life, your friends and family will more likely be the ones to assist you, not the presidential candidates. So, don’t push your friends away because of politics.

Politics Polarize People

As I said earlier, politics polarizes people. If you are a serious Donald Trump supporter, it is unlikely that you will be happy about people praising Hillary Clinton.  If you are at a family gathering and begin praising Trump and your mother-in-law begins praising Hillary in a saintly manner, you will likely become hot under the collar. It is only human nature.

To escape all of this stress, avoid the discussion of politics.  If someone else initiates such a discussion, delicately point out to them that you would all be better off discussing Love and Hip Hop or the Kardashians who are nearly as bad, but at least everyone can agree on that point.

Talk Less, Listen More

Have you noticed, that when people talk politics, they usually say they will keep an open mind and have an intelligent debate? Nevertheless, what typically occurs is that eventually, everybody begins talking at the same time and no one actually listens. It is as if they are saying, “Hurry up and finish so I can say what I want to say.”

People really want others to accept their point of view.  What began as an open debate soon begins to take on menacing undertones.  People get their feelings hurt as others become sarcastic and put people down as being “dumb” to support a particular candidate.  You can, and should, avoid this unnecessary stress.

Things to Talk About Besides Politics

So, what can you talk about?  I would bet that we can find loads of things in life that are more interesting than Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Why not speak about some of those things? How about the latest movie you’ve watched?  How about encouraging others to engage in some sort of personal development?  Have you read a good book lately?  How about your future plans in life or some interesting thing you saw while driving to work?  Any of these topics will be more fun, more enriching and rewarding than discussing politics and becoming antagonistic towards each other.

It can be very enriching and educational discussing politics with unemotional people.  However, when engaging the majority of people, in such a discussion, it will likely result in you feeling stressed out.  When you find yourself stressed out, end the discussion.  That will bring an end to your stress. So, don’t argue!  Vote! Vote early and encourages others to vote too.

 J Thomas Smith is host of “Sunday Morning Live” on “The Real Sound of Htown” KMJQ/Majic 102.1 (9-11 cst). He is an attorneyauthorkeynote speaker and mental health consultant. Your comments are welcome at or Follow on Twitter @drjtsmith102 on and


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