The Thanksgiving weekend is the perfect opportunity to spend some time with your family. Or is it? Talking about politics in a big company where everybody has their own opinion on how to make America great again can be hard, especially these days. The post-election atmosphere is tense, and every word can be a trigger turning a family dinner into a battlefield. If you are already worried thinking about surviving your family at the Thanksgiving table these tips are for you!
Think about your guests. Who loves talking politics and who would rather discuss anything but them? Take the time to draft a seating chart before the Thanksgiving party. Don’t put together your orthodox conservative uncle and your anarchist cousin, who have been fighting with each other since 2012. Think about the best way to arrange people around the table, so the risk of a sudden fight over who should run the country is reduced to a minimum level.
HAVE AN ACTIVITY PLAN
Why do you have to sit around the table all the time? When most of the food is gone and there are no more news or gossip left to discuss, the conversation can steer towards dangerous topics. Having other activities planned can help you solve the problem. There is just no time for talking politics if all of you are playing board games or watching a festive movie – just make sure the characters are not going to start talking about politics so as to not provoke any of the guests.
STICK TO OTHER TOPICS
Prepare a few other topics for discussion and be ready to throw them in at the right moment. There are always things like sports, food, or family matters to discuss. If you can see someone getting ready to start a talking politics steer the convo away by asking them about their health plan or mortgage payments.
GET OFF TOPIC
Even if somebody confronts you with a straight up question on how you feel about one of the parties, try not to push it - change the subject. Even if you are out of fresh topics for conversation, you can always honestly say that you don’t like talking about politics very much and that you’d rather discuss something else. If that doesn’t work, remember that you are not obliged to continue the conversation you don’t like. If you hear someone talking politics on the other side of the table, remember that you don’t have to engage.
Before everyone is seated, half-jokingly prepare a list of topics that are banned from the discussion so as not to ruin the evening. Talking politics can be the number one taboo, together with religion, health problems, finances and other things you would not like to discuss over dinner. People are not likely to push the conversation if they know it makes you uncomfortable. Stating the rules beforehand is a good way to make sure that people will think more carefully about touching on a complicated subject.
TAKE LEAD OF THE CONVERSATION
Do not be afraid to take the discussion under control and guide it back to the less dangerous territory. There is a huge chance that you are not going to be the only person at the Thanksgiving table who would rather not talk about politics at all. Help each other out – if you hear someone confronting a person with a potentially explosive question, steer the conversation away by compliment the food or changing the subject to something safer.
Even with all the precautions, no one guarantees that the guest will steer clear of all sensitive topics. Remember that everyone has the right to have their own opinion – even if it is going to be completely different from yours. Talking politics with respect and understanding can make surviving the evening not that difficult.
Look up stress management techniques, step away from dicey topics and keep calm. If there is no way to avoid talking about politics at all, do not engage in the conversation and save energy for a better purpose. Always remember that your opinion is valid, even if the opponent thinks differently.
Talking politics is a hard thing to bear, but with our tips and some strength, you can go through it painlessly or avoid it completely. There are so many things to discuss and so many things to do together – it is Thanksgiving, after all.