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2 Ways to Stay Friends With People Who Have Strong Opinions

Strong opinions can cause rifts in your relationships. Here’s what you can do.

Key points

  • It’s almost never worth losing a friend over an ideological division.
  • It is essential to consider the source of our news and obtain information from a variety of perspectives.
  • Attentive listening raises humility, creating a positive feedback loop between better listening and more humility.
Kevin Laminto / Unsplash
Kevin Laminto / Unsplash

Many people who come to therapy are worried that the opinions they hold are starting to negatively affect their relationships with their friends and family. They ask questions like these:

  • “Why do I always argue with my partner about politics?”
  • “Why am I finding it hard to talk to my friends about current events?”
  • “Why do I feel like I am losing touch with some of the people I care about most?”

In today’s world, it’s common for people to feel like they are living in an “echo chamber” where they are only exposed to information and opinions that align with their own. This can lead to heightened polarization and division, causing people to feel less connected to those around them.

Echo chambers can form when people seek out sources of information that align with their existing beliefs and filter out those that don’t. As a result, they become insulated from opposing viewpoints, and their perspectives become more extreme. This can lead to a vicious cycle of confirmation bias, where people seek out information that confirms their existing beliefs while ignoring information that contradicts them.

As a psychologist, I can tell you that the personal relationships you have with your friends and family are integral to your mental health. It’s almost never worth losing a friend over an ideological division. Here are two tips to help you maintain relationships with people who may differ from you ideologically.

1. Seek out diverse sources of information.

A study published in Social Indicators Research shows that where we get our news from can significantly impact our perception of the world around us. For instance, the research found that people who mostly rely on social media for news have a greater perception of corruption compared to those who get their news from traditional sources such as newspapers, radio, and TV.

This can be attributed in part to the lack of control or regulation by established “gatekeepers” in social media, which allows for the presentation of more sensational and extreme news.

Additionally, social media has low barriers to entry, which results in numerous news providers catering to specific audiences and their preferences.

As such, it is essential to consider the source of our news and try to obtain information from a variety of perspectives. This helps us have a comprehensive understanding of current events, be more accepting of differing viewpoints, and reduce the possibility of political polarization.

2. Practice active listening.

Active listening, which is paying attention to what is being said and how it is being said, is a crucial skill to cultivate in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world, where echo chambers are far too common.

Remember that different opinions often stem from different experiences, values, and beliefs. Active listening is important to escape echo chambers because it allows us to consider diverse perspectives and broaden our understanding of the world. By really listening to what others have to say and engaging in meaningful conversations with people who have different opinions, we can challenge our own biases and broaden our knowledge.

According to a recent study in the Journal of Positive Psychology, attentive listening raises the level of humility in every interaction, creating a positive feedback loop between better listening and more humility. By being humble and understanding that not everybody will perceive the world as you do, you will be able to engage in deeper conversations that foster more fulfilling relationships that can boost your well-being.


Echo chambers can have a negative impact on people’s relationships with those who hold different opinions. If you find that your opinions are ruining the interpersonal relationships you consider important, talking to a therapist can help. In the meantime, try to seek out diverse sources of information and practice active listening. It’s important to remember that everyone is entitled to their own opinions and that we can and should maintain positive relationships with our friends and family who are different from us.

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