Politics has become a bitter, contentious fight. Social media is a battleground. Neighbors ignore each other because of the candidates they support. People are angry all the time discussing issues.
In local politics, making personal connections is the way to get elected. The problem is when neighbors fail to talk how can you build a coalition for victory. The current climate stands in the way of building any consensus. How can you communicate with people when the yelling is the only thing going on?
There is a great book by a sociologist named Arlie Hochschild called Strangers in Their Own Land. Hochschild is a liberal from Berkeley. She does not hide her political views. Hochschild immersed herself in Louisiana conservative politics for five years. Her belief is that there is an ’empathy wall’ that makes it next to impossible for people to be able to communicate across political lines.
A first step to finding empathy is to ask questions. To come in all hot with statements does not enable you to understand where a person is coming from. The ability to listen to a person’s beliefs and then ask more non judgmental questions will help make a connection. You want to understand what make a person to be so firm in their convictions. Hochschild uses this to understand where people are coming from and she uses that to also calmly point out her views and ideas.
Empathy is an important way to connect with voters. Empathy is missing from today’s political scene and is much needed. Start with listening, then questioning and then you can break down the ’empathy wall’. A great way to start is by reading Arlie Hochschild’s book and here is a link to purchase it.