How to Acknowledge the Elephant (and Donkey) in the Room
When we planned and launched Hello50, we decided not to broach the topic of politics. After all, there is no shortage of outlets weighing in on political discourse, morning noon and night. This is not to say there is a lack of interest or opinion personally - in fact quite the opposite. I have always read about and stayed current when it comes to politics both domestically and internationally starting in my late teens through today. Hello50, however, was launched with the goal of creating an inclusive, supportive platform bringing all women together and based on our pre-launch survey, women shared with us they would prefer that we not engage in political discourse. But here we are on the eve of an election marred by what I would consider to be the most divisive time in our country so how do we not find a way to acknowledge the elephant (and donkey) in the room while remaining inclusive?
There has been so much written about how to maintain civility during Thanksgiving dinner despite political differences. We wanted to know what women in the Hello50 community thought is the best way forward with their friends and family after the election results. Here is what we we were told:
Gloating: There are strong feelings on both sides. Women told us they don’t want to get a call from a friend and hear her gloat about the results.
Political analyst extraordinaire: One woman said “my sister is a CPA and she thinks she is an expert political analyst and she isn’t.” After the results, don’t get labeled “know it all.” Let the results stand for themselves and resist the urge to pontificate on why their candidate won.
Election results won’t change my view: Just because your friend’s candidate loses, it doesn’t mean she will suddenly adopt your viewpoint. The country is pretty well split so “see I told you so” is not helpful. There are plenty of people with your friend's ideology, regardless who wins.
I come in peace: We asked if their candidate won, would they call their friend who supported the other candidate in support of them. Women on both sides said they would reach out to their friend in support of them.
Avoid the topic: Chances are that the relationship with your sister, mother or friend was built on something other than politics. The loss of a favored candidate could be raw so when asked if they would prefer not to discuss the topic, most women said they would prefer to avoid the topic in the short term to allow some healing.
Overall, women shared with us that this election will come and go and their relationships would remain intact. However, we did have women “on both sides” tell us that this election has shown them that their value system is so different from their friend. They tell us they are already struggling to listen to one another so election results might put their relationship in jeopardy. Hopefully with open and honest communication as well as mutual respect, your lifelong relationships will prove to outlive the 2020 battle for the White House.