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How to Show Good Manners When Talking Politics

In the past, politics, money and religion weren’t considered polite conversation. We can only assume that dinner parties were very civilised indeed but probably rather dull. Nowadays, a gentleman is expected to have an understanding of current affairs and discuss them without losing his temper, which can be challenging considering the state of the world.

So how does one show good manner when talking politics, considering that even our MPs now seem to be losing their composure on a daily basis?

The etiquette of discussing politics

1. Consider the circumstances
Although a respectful political debate is perfectly acceptable, there are still occasions when it’s frowned upon, such as weddings, funerals and very formal events.

2. Be informed
A gentleman will always be cultivating his personality and interests. To avoid expressing ill-informed opinions, engage with the world around you and discuss facts, not rumours.

3. Show your true colours
Personal interests should be disclosed from the start to avoid the awkwardness when people discover e.g. that the PM is your sibling. Similarly, if you arrange a gathering to promote a political party or candidate, inform your guests in advance.

4. Assume nothing
This is a very common trap. You shouldn’t assume what someone’s views are just because they have a certain profession, social circle or background. Talk and listen respectfully.

5. Strangers in the night
You never know what you might come up against when you talk to strangers. If you want to avoid sharing your thoughts first, try returning questions, e.g. “What do you think about x?” “I’d be really keen to hear what YOU think about x”.

6. Keep it clean
Your manners should never run out, even if your patience does. Avoid insulting or interrupting people when you don’t like what you’re hearing. Instead, consider it an opportunity to understand a position you don’t agree with.

7. Know when to wrap up
If the conversation becomes unpleasant or drags on, wrap up politely. “I will definitely consider that” is one of our favourite lines! If you’re the unfortunate host and your guests are having a loud showdown, politely intervene and change the topic.

Sticking to pleasantries is safe but rarely results in meaningful connections. As long as you know the difference between engaging in conversation and arguing, there’s no reason to shy away from lively debates. For more style and etiquette tips delivered straight to your inbox, sign up to our newsletter.