Q: I was at a party in my retirement community a few weeks ago and ended up shooting my mouth off.
The topic of politics came up, and my neighbors and I are on opposite sides of the political spectrum. We've never had an argument like this before, but I found myself reacting to topics instead of thinking about them.
My neighbors are well-off and very liberal, but I am less comfortable financially. When we started talking about the economy and next year's presidential election, I became very offended by what they were saying.
I ended up going on the attack and made it personal. I am not sure when it all started going downhill and am now ashamed at my reaction.
What went wrong?
A: You may have heard the adage that you should avoid discussing sex, politics and religion. It seems like these areas of conversation are more likely to cause arguments than not.
These topics are very complicated and personal, and it's hard to disentangle ideas and emotions. Given how fraught they are, we often struggle to articulate what we think -- especially in the moment!
The safest bet is to avoid talking about politics altogether, but that isn't always possible.
To prevent another snap reaction, identify what your triggers are. Talking about the economy or finances may be difficult topics for you to debate about casually.
Once you know what pushes your buttons, you can know how to tread carefully.