This election year, I was even more irritated and frustrated than usual.
When did political ads become less “My candidate is great because _____________” and more “My candidate’s opponent is responsible for everything except climate change, and we’ll find a way to blame him or her for that, too”? During election season, our local daily paper runs a feature where reporters fact-check the advertisements and spell out any necessary corrections. But so many people are either overwhelmed, suggestible, or lazy and simply buy whatever is presented on television. During the 2008 campaign, I disconnected (and later sold) my TV. This year, I played CDs in my car, hid posts on Facebook, and sent all the mailings to the recycle bag. But I still couldn’t escape. Senior citizens watch a lot of TV, and there was no way to fast-forward through the commercials.
Then there were the times when the seniors I care for wanted to engage me in discussion. Sometimes I agreed with them. Most of the time, I did not. In fact, I found one client’s opinions particularly offensive. But apart from the fact that I love my job and would like to keep it, etiquette in general, and specifically, the respect for my elders that I was brought up with, demanded that I keep my own opinions to myself.
I generally handled any differences of opinion in one of two ways.
- Ask questions: why does this person believe what he or she believes? What were previous elections like? What would you do differently if you were campaigning for your candidate?
- This is the method I used more frequently: Say, “That’s interesting,” or “I don’t know,” or make some other noncommittal noise, then change the subject. Ask about their grandchildren, or what they would like for lunch. Invite them to play cards or a board game. Ask what else is good on TV. I’ve heard this technique called “bean-dipping”; you’ll find the origin of the term and many funny and cringe-inducing stories on etiquettehell.com.
How did/do you handle differences of opinion, particularly with people in a different generation?