How do I continue relationships with friends and family members with very different views on vaccines, masks, politics and life post COVID?

Mental Health

A: If you love them and want to continue to be in relationship with them, focus on the common ground instead of the areas where you disagree.

From masks to vaccines, from coverups to conspiracy theories and beyond, global news (and all the politics that come with it) dominated personal conversation in the last year. A lot of us found out that our best friends, our close family members, and even our partners have different opinions than we do.

Here are some questions to consider before your next interaction with those loved ones with different views than your own:

❤️ Do you love them? If you love them, it’s worth continuing to do the hard work of relationship even if you disagree on important issues. This might mean thinking about the things you DO have in common (even if it’s stuff from the past) and focusing on those memories when you get together.

✅ Do you want to be right or do you want to have a relationship? In a relationship, you’ll learn from the other person. In a relationship, you value the other person’s opinion. In a relationship, you’ll give the other person the benefit of the doubt.

🤔 How can you modulate your response to be your best self? Instead of snorting with derision or rolling your eyes, instead of demanding to know what the other person means by a particular comment, try the softer approach: “I’ve been reading different things. Tell me more about what you’re learning…”

🩺 What type of relationship do you want to have with this person? Your family, friends and intimate loved ones are not your coworkers. While conflict can lead to breakthroughs at the office, when combined with family (and perhaps a few drinks), it’s less likely to go well. Ideally, in a healthy relationship, you could communicate your different opinions kindly, find common ground and continue to communicate and learn from each other along the way. But if that doesn’t feel safe, find other topics of conversation.

What has worked for you? Share your tips with the Dear Pandemic community in the comments below.

Those Nerdy Girls

Being Right v. Being in Relationship

On Active and Empathetic Listening

On the “Empathy Sandwich” approach

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