Getting the family together for holiday dinner can be fun and festive—but it can also be fraught with tension.
No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, chances are, you’ll find yourself at odds with the views held by some (or all!) of your family members over the holidays.
These political differences can actually strain your relationships to the point that you begin to dread – or even avoid – getting together for the annual holiday dinner.
Before things reach that stage, try these simple strategies for defusing political tensions at the holiday dinner table—and even beyond.
1. Focus on the reason you’re together
Don’t lose the sight of the reason why the family has come together for holiday dinner. You’re here to party, not to persuade.
If a political argument erupts, try reiterating the need for gratitude and celebration: it’s not every day you’re surrounded by people who share not only a common history, but also love for each other—and love doesn’t always require you to be in agreement.
2. Debates get heated, but discussions should stay warm
When a holiday dinner conversation gets political, learn how to convey your dissent without conveying disrespect.
Try doing this by asking questions rather then making assertions: Intelligent, respectful inquiries are what differentiate a warm discussion from a heated debate. I
n a debate, the tone is aggressive—usually a defensive reaction. A debater isn’t necessary evil or wrong: more likely, they’re scared of being verbally assaulted—or worse, invalidated.
3. Let curiosity replace curses
Passion and politeness are not mutually exclusive—even when politics are concerned.
You will have to go deep inside your beautiful, loving caring heart, and with all the genuine effort you can muster, find the desire to understand—and not lecture—the person you’re disagreeing with.
Respond with genuine, respectful curiosity every time you’re faced with an opinion that you don’t share.