November 21, 2018
A recent poll found that just 15 percent of Americans were looking forward to the anticipated political banter at their Thanksgiving tables this year in a discovery that shocked no one.
Talking politics is the single-most divisive thing we can choose to chat about while we eat turkey — and yet, arguments make their way into some of our homes and cause rifts during the holidays every year. And that goes beyond just Thanksgiving, too. We have to worry about this from now until basically January.
So we've crowdsourced some tips online — some are more helpful (and serious) than others — that may assist you in avoiding a blow-up between you and whomever you're most likely to agitate, whether that be the overly-opinionated liberal millennial or the stubborn conservative Baby Boomer.
Ground breaking! But yes, this is an option. Here's an article that is almost entirely dedicated to tips on avoiding, diffusing, and dodging political outbursts. Experts say if a family member is trying to bait you into a conversation, ask for a political rain check. Or come right out and say, "Thanks, but not this year."
Take a tip from this classic SNL sketch and use something we all love to make it go away.
If you really must get into the debate or feel that some good discourse may come out of a conversation, engage with that person privately. If you make a big show of the debate in front of the entire party, it could be upsetting to some or blow up into a larger disagreement.
Excuse yourself for a few minutes before dinner starts, just to get it over with. Enjoy that.
Try extending your meal into a 10-course feast with dozens of dishes so that no one can get a word in. This will ensure no one can talk about the White House or caravans or Jim Acosta because they'll either be too full, asleep, or have a mouth full of pumpkin pie. This is my personal favorite tip.
Experts recommend staying away from clap-backs that turn your conversation into a tit-for-tat debate. Focus on collaboration and sharing ideas. You can do this by asking more personal questions, because according to a New York Times article, this will make your family member "feel safe, demonstrate respect, gather useful information, contribute to understanding, elicit empathy, building relationship and encourage self reflection."
When someone makes what you think to be an offensive or off-color comment, try asking them a personal question instead. Example, per the Times article, below.
Conservative: "Trump has been nothing but great for the economy. You snowflakes have no concept of hard work."
Liberal: "How have you been doing financially?"
Liberal: "Health care is a basic human right."
Conservative: "So, you think the government has a responsibility to make sure every person has basic health care, right? Tell me more."
This one comes from Celeste Headlee in her 2015 TED talk, "10 ways to have a better conversation." Everyone wants to be heard, so starting a conversation where you just want to educate someone else is going to be obvious and very annoying. If you go into a conversation with the intention to listen, internalize and then share, you can have a more productive, and frankly less rude, discourse.
Have more useful tips we should know about? Let us know.