How to be Friends With People of Differing Beliefs

You may encounter people that do not agree with you on occasion. When the disagreement is about differing beliefs, or topics like politics or religion, it may be challenging to manage the conflict.

For example, your colleague wins money visiting a casino online and tells you about it, but you are vehemently opposed to gambling. If you mention this, it could leave your colleague feeling defensive, and it would be easy for the disagreement to escalate or the relationship to sour.

Opposing beliefs don’t need to cause conflict, however. Correctly approached, these tricky situations could build relationships rather than destroy friendships. 

In this post, we’ll discuss tips for how to be friends with people of differing beliefs.

Be Respectful

Respect a different opinion.

In the example above, a better way to handle the situation would have been first to congratulate your co-worker on the win. You might move on to saying that you’d be nervous about losing money at a casino.

Instead of telling your colleague they’re wrong, you could gently explain your point of view. The person will feel less defensive if the situation stays neutral and your tone remains calm. They are more likely to take what you say to heart, and you might learn more about them.

Find Something That You Have In Common

You probably have more in common than you realize. 

One way to stay friends with someone with divergent viewpoints is to find something that you both support. It could be football. Focusing on the sport can give you relief from a hot-button issue before it becomes a sore point in the friendship.

It’s Not Personal

When someone’s beliefs diverge from your own, it’s easy to take it personally. 

If you support one candidate in an election and your neighbor tells you they support another, you may feel they’re judging your choices. All they are doing is communicating what they believe—it isn’t a personal attack, and it doesn’t need to create animosity between you. 

Try To Understand Rather Than Convince

Fundamental disagreements become problematic when you impose your views on others. 

If you try to ‘correct’ another person’s thinking, the situation gets tense quickly. You may be correct, but the other person thinks the same. Instead, find out why they feel the way that they do and leave it there.

You might be surprised at what you learn if you listen to their viewpoint. Instead of thinking about how you’re going to counter the argument, listen carefully, and ask pertinent questions to learn more about it. Get your friend to explain the reasoning and answer more questions. 

You’ll preserve the relationship and grow in the process. 

Understand That Everyone Has Different Experiences

Your life experiences are different from theirs.

The current Black Lives Matter movement is a perfect example of different lived experiences. Many white people counter the motto with “All Lives Matter.” Neither side is inherently wrong, but both have different experiences. 

Even in the same neighborhood, daily experiences are worlds apart between black and white members of those communities. It is better to work on understanding and open discussion than to stubbornly throw out a slogan that devalues another person’s worldview.

Final Notes

Staying friends with someone with an opposing viewpoint comes down to one crucial quality–respect. Everyone has a right to an opinion, and you don’t need to agree on everything to honor this truth.

Instead of focusing on differences, bond on similarities. Work towards creating understanding rather than forcing your point onto others.

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