Our current political climate has everyone on edge. Sometimes it seems like every possible topic has a definite “red” or “blue” side to the narrative. Finding neutral things to prevent holiday conflict talk can be exhausting, especially around the dinner table with distant and annoying family members. Fortunately, whether you identify as a Republican or Democrat, you can find common ground with your family and have a peaceful Thanksgiving and avoid political minefields.
Here are a few tips how to avoid political minefields this Thanksgiving:
- Set the rules before Thanksgiving. Don’t wait until the day of the dinner to resolve family conflict. Start having an open-hearted conversation with your crazy uncle now! In fact, send a mass email to all Thanksgiving attendants. Let everyone know that Thanksgiving will be a politics-free dinner. Come up with ground rules together. Make sure everyone reads the email and promises to follow this Thanksgiving treaty.
- Come up with a safe word. A politics-free dinner sounds great but there are bound to be slip ups, and if you have too many of those, the whole agreement will fall apart. If one of your family starts tilting the conversation towards politics remind them of their agreement or have a code word prepared–it can be something as simple as “minefield.”
- Think before you speak. To truly keep the peace it’s important that you police your own thoughts and words. Before you bring up a topic of conversation ask yourself whether or not your words could lead down the wrong path.
- Take note of your behavior. It’s not just your words that can cause a conflict–it’s your behavior as well. Stay calm and avoid raising your voice. If you feel yourself getting angry or frustrated take a break or go outside for a few moments of silence.
- Talk about gratitude. If things go quiet around the table, talk about what you’re grateful for. It may seem cliche, but it truly is a mindful way for you to bond with your family. It can also relieve tension and lead to other conversations.
- Listen and be respectful. Listening is a humbling, mindful practice. Show that you care for the other person by being respectful of their opinion. Listen carefully to what the other person has to say without being defensive–this is the best way of preventing family conflict.