I have now worked in politics for four years. In that time, I have learned a lot of things. That includes things that are expected of me, things that I expect others to do, and things that I wish people who are new to politics understood sooner.

Without further adieu, here are the political etiquette rules every politico should know and practice. 

Educate yourself on issues

This should be a given, but know your position on issues and also know why you believe these things. Start with the facts. Delve deeper into the meaning of your position. Know that part of educating yourself on topics is to understand the other side of the argument. 

Be friends with everyone

Yes, it’s okay to be friends with people of other political affiliations than you. One of my good friends and coworkers works for a Democrat and they often give her grief about being friends with me or even liking my tweets. It is ridiculous to me that someone can’t be friends with others because of their political affiliation. We aren’t friends because we are “gaining useful information” from the other. In fact, our relationship stems mainly from not talking about politics at all.

Mind your words

Word travels fast in the political community. In fact, the political world is smaller than you can ever imagine. Being friendly even when you don’t want to be. Your reputation is everything in this world. Protect it.

Avoid stereotypes and personal attacks

Never call someone names when discussing politics. It is beneath you and it is beneath your beliefs, on both sides, to stoop so low as to attack someone personally. And we all know what they say about assumptions. Don’t assume someone’s position just because of the party they align with.’

Find common ground

Contrary to what many people believe, Democrats and Republicans both have the same end goal, but we simply disagree about how to get there. Talk about why it’s important that zip codes don’t determine a child’s future. Talk about why keeping Americans safe is so important. We often agree on outcome, but not on the process in which we would get there. Find what unites you instead of what divides you. 

There is always a time and a place

Do not go on an angry political tirade at a party, event, or family time. There is a time, place, and setting, where you can have these kinds of discussions, but know your audience. Understand who is around you and understand how it would be perceived when you’re losing your head in a place where it is unacceptable. 

Do not publicly try to embarrass people you know personally

I promise it doesn’t look cool. In fact, it looks childish. I strongly dislike when people who work together go back and forth online and it gets snippy.Instead of getting cool points for being snarky online, I personally don’t have the energy to argue with people online that I know personally. If they disagree with something I said, they can bring it to me and we can discuss it. 

Meet someone with curiosity

Listen to the stories of why people believe the way they do. It is okay to ask them questions. Doing this with a calm and interested demeanor is important. You might even find it betters your argument. If you don’t genuinely care, then don’t ask.

Do not raise your voice

When you raise your voice, you have lost. There is no coming back from looking intolerant. Charlie Kirk also makes the point that your blood pressure should never be above the other person’s because you have to maintain that level of calm to continue thinking rationally. Practice this. Don’t scream at people.

Don’t burn bridges.

Again, this should absolutely be a given, but it needs to be said. Burning bridges is a hard no in the political world. Again, this world is tiny. Everybody knows everybody which means that when you’ve wronged somebody or been disrespectful, everyone else will know. Your reputation precedes you and so it goes. 

Always use your inside voice, wear a smile, and maintain your calm demeanor.

Caroline C.
FFL Cabinet Member
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