Lessons to converse with the politically insane

In this video, Dan Lier interviews Peter Montoya about his latest book and talks about how our ancestral past informs the tenor of our political conversations.

But anyways, I’ve got another question for you. I’ve got I’ve got friends that just, you know, they stop talking to other friends, as you well know. How should we talk to someone we disagree with politically?

 

It’s a great question. And I once again, that was one of the reasons why I wrote this book is I too behaved very badly. Five and six years ago. And I realized what I was doing and I wanted to find out why I was behaving the way I was behaving.

 

You know, why was I shaming my friends? Why would I get outraged by their political opinions? Why would I attack them? I’ve done all these things. So I’m not in any way saying that I’ve got the magic answer and then I’m better than anybody because I’ve lived it.

 

So first number one is don’t have political conversations. Now, we’ve been taught that from a very, very early age. I’m going to give you a different reason of why you shouldn’t talk politics. We buy this once again. This is a massive generalization.

 

I make a lot of generalizations in my comments. If it doesn’t apply to you, it doesn’t apply to you. But by and large, 99 percent of the time when I’ve had a political conversation or I’ve seen a friend having a political conversation, it is not a conversation.

 

About deliberating over the issues. Hey, what do you think about that? Oh, I can learn from that. I get some more information. Hey, this this problem solved. I’ll be your your idea partner. And today, you and I will both educate each other and get more empathy.

 

And together, we’ll come to a better solution. That’s not what’s happening, right? All we are doing is basically identifying our tribe. So I’m 52 years old. I’ve read twenty five books a year. I’ve listened to thousands of hours of podcasts.

 

I like to think that I am somehow civilized and evolved, that I am somehow better than my very, very ancient Neanderthal lizard brain. And the answer is I’m not. There are tons of what are called subconscious strategies that run us in they’re beneath the surface.

 

Yep. Probably the most powerful one there is, is tribalism. So we are the reason we believe what we believe when it comes to politics and social social issues is we believe to belong we’re a herd animal. And if you want to be a member of a herd, the most important rule is assimilate.

 

So if you are in a herd and everyone’s got stripes on, you have stripes on, too, so you are assimilated into that pack, whatever it might be. We have, you know, kind of our our visual tribal identifiers might be our glasses and our shirt.

 

And we maybe we might take what we went to college or what party you belong to. And we have these kind of visual ones. Right. I large what we do. Oftentimes, we look at people. We start having these very we’re very, very visual people, both men and women.

 

And we have kind of a way of so many people up. Look at that. They’ve got a streak of purple in their hair. OK. Yeah. First American flag on their back. Oh, I think it’s an eagle pin. OK, I got them.

 

It happens just like that. So we all say, oh, I’m not judgmental. Sure you’re not right. There’s not a person listening to this or watching us today who has not walked into a cocktail party or walked into a networking meeting, looked around the room and said, hey, that’s not my person.

 

That might be my person. I might talk to them. And that is the representation of your tribalism. Yeah. You are looking for people that you belong with. Yeah. That’s who we believe gives us safety. So for us to go against our tribe, whatever the belief might be, because each tribe has kind of their own belief set

 

and they’re almost all identical and they have some nuances. But you’ll find most conservatives kind of folks around here. And most liberals kind of focus around here. They have kind of the same beliefs set. And if you were to be among your group and be pro-gun when everyone else is anti-gun, they will shame you and you will very

 

quickly assimilate. So you belong to that group. So when we have a quote unquote political conversation, we’re not really talking about politics. We’re talking about the news du jour. So this last week, Simone Biles decided to quit in the middle of the Olympics.

 

This was for some reason was politicized. I totally

 

was. It totally was.

 

I don’t have any idea why we all of a sudden made this into a moral issue of good or bad or patriotic or not patriotic or selfish or generous. Each side kind of had these different talking points, these little phrases that they used, if you were to ask me about that.

 

Hey, tell me about what you think about this, what you’re looking for. I used the same talking points that you heard and you believe in if I use the same talking points. It is the same thing of me having a big giant biker biker gang badge on me that says I’m in the same tribe you

 

are. It just happens to happen verbally. So political conversations are not discussions about empathy or how to get to know each other. All we’re doing is saying, are you on my side? And if you’re not on my side, there is still the ancient part in our midbrain, the amygdala that actually fires off and says this person’s an

 

enemy and I need to shame them, shun them or get them out of my tribe. So when you have been shamed or when you have shamed somebody else and said, I can’t talk to that person, that is your ancient biology, your tribalism firing off if you think that you’ve evolved beyond your tribalism.

Think again.

If you are more committed to national unity than partisanship, please check out my book, The Second Civil War: A Citizen’s Guide to Healing Our Fractured Nation. My book will challenge you to improve your relationships with friends and family. Click the link in the description below.