top of page

3 pivots for escaping political polarization. Wanna give ‘em a try?

735 words

Putting up with painful politics

Why do many of us feel so disgusted with politics as usual? Could it be its demanding tone?

  • What if we turned our political demands into attractive invitations?

  • What if we first affirmed what others mean to us before we ask something else of them?

  • What we if we no longer merely relieve our surface troubles, but actually resolve our deeper problems?

But how?

For starters, let’s get serious about what we honestly need of each other.

One. Meaningful. Step. At. A. Time.

Then let’s apply the principle of positive value relating to turn our demanding politics on its dizzy head. Demanding just turns folks off and keeps us apart.

Value Relating Continuum

Let’s step away from what clearly no longer works. Then take three proactive steps toward positive engagement: toward inviting, toward giving, and toward resolving.

1. From demanding to inviting

Now let’s take our first step by rethinking how we address one another.

Which sounds better?

“You’re being racist!”


“I experience your actions as a form of racial bias, but assume you’re not intentionally being racially discriminatory. Can we talk?”

Which sounds better?

“You’re such a leach!”


“I experience your apparent overuse of welfare programs, that I pay taxes to support, as disincentivizing my hard work. Can we talk?”

Which would you rather be told?

“You’re such a homophobe!”


“Your opposition to same sex marriage triggers my traumatic memory of being hated by almost everyone, simply because of whom I’m compelled to love. Can we talk?”

Which would you rather be told?

“You’re infringing on my religious liberties!”


“Your expectation that I honor your homosexual relationships goes against the firm foundation of how I have faithfully related to myself, to God, and to others for all of my life. Can we talk?”

Which works better for you? Provoking their defensiveness? Or inviting them to respond respectfully to your need in a way you respond respectfully to theirs?

2. From getting to giving

Now let’s take this a step further. Instead of starting out with what we need of others, let’s start with what others may need of us. Let’s consider what we do for them already, that they have come to expect from us.

Which do you think would be better?

“I need you to respect my ethnic diversity!”


“I affirm your need to be with others of shared kinship. But can you see how this can shut me out, right when we need each other the most?”

Which do you think would be better?

“I need you to see how discouraged I get paying taxes for your welfare benefits!”


“I appreciate how you rely on government funded welfare programs to avoid slipping further into poverty. But can you see how dispirited I get paying taxes for welfare programs you use far more than me?”

Which do you think would be better? First drawing attention to what you need? Or first affirming the need of the other?

3. From relieving to resolving

Now let’s take this even further. If we’re going to get serious about resolving our problems then let’s go deeper by applying a simple rule of business communication.

We can sandwich our unpleasant request to respect our need between two pleasantries for them:

1) positively affirming their need and

2) positively affirming our relation with them.

Which seems better for you?

“I respect you have a different sexual orientation than most, but can you respect my traditional values?”

or to add

“I am open to understanding you and your needs better if I can trust you to understand me and my needs better”?

Which seems be