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How To Counter Whataboutism: Tips for Better Talks

Talking and understanding each other is essential, but sometimes it’s tricky. Have you heard of “whataboutism”? It’s when someone changes the topic to avoid discussing the main thing. In this article, we’ll learn about whataboutism and how to counter whataboutism.

How to counter whataboutism

Whataboutism means instead of talking about the central issue, someone talks about something else to distract from the topic. They might say, “What about this other thing?” This can make it seem like the two things are the same, even if they differ.

Why Whataboutism Is Not Good

1. Makes Things Confusing: 

Changing the topic makes it hard to discuss the main problem. It’s like trying to play two different games at once.

2. Avoids Taking Responsibility:

Whataboutism lets people avoid discussing their actions. It’s like saying, “I don’t want to talk about what I did wrong. Let’s talk about what they did wrong.”

3. Stops Us from Understanding:

Whataboutism keeps us from understanding the main thing we are discussing. It’s like trying to watch a movie, but someone keeps changing the channel.

4. Causes Fighting:

This can make people fight because they can’t discuss the main problem. It’s like two teams trying to play different games simultaneously.

how to counter whataboutism

Ways to Deal with Whataboutism

1. Notice and Move On:

If someone changes the topic, notice it and gently bring the conversation back to the main problem. It’s like guiding a friend back to the right path.

2. Stick to the Point:

Keep talking about the main problem, and stay focused. Say what you think and explain why. It’s like staying on the main road instead of taking detours.

3. Ask Questions:

Instead of following the topic change, ask questions about the main issue. Like, “Can we talk about the main problem instead?” It’s like steering a ship back to its course.

4. Point It Out:

If you can, say that the topic is changing, and sticking to the main thing is essential. It’s like telling someone gently you want to talk about one thing, not something else.

5. Find Common Ground:

Try to find out how the primary and other issues are the same. This can help bring the conversation back to the main problem. It’s like finding a bridge between two islands.

four guys talking about whataboutism

6. Listen and Understand:

If the other person keeps changing the topic, try to understand why. It’s like putting yourself in their shoes to see why they are doing this.

7. Set Rules: 

If you’re having a serious talk, make rules for everyone to stick to the main issue. It’s like agreeing on rules before playing a game.

Related Articles:

How about vs What about: Exploring the Differences

How Do You Say Whatever In Spanish – A Concise Guide 2023


Talking to each other can be tricky when someone changes the topic to avoid the main problem. We can have better conversations by noticing when this happens and using these simple ways to handle it.

Remember, it’s not about winning an argument but about having talks that help us grow and learn together. Just like taking care of a garden helps it bloom, taking care of our conversations helps our ideas and understanding grow. With practice, we can make our talks more fruitful and enjoyable.

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