It's thought that talking about politics at family holiday gatherings is best avoided because of the potential disaster the conversation may cause. Whether it's because of generational differences, varying ethnic backgrounds, contrasting perspectives on religion, or other polarizing topics, family members don't always share the same viewpoints when it comes to politics. And when tensions are palpable even a scrumptious dessert won't temper the dispute, which is too bad for both the dessert and all those present at the dinner. Two prominent aspects of the holiday season are family gatherings and merry spirits. It's unfortunate that both of these things can't merge when we are talking about politics.
However, politics at the table shouldn't be avoided entirely. In fact, respectful disagreement should always be encouraged. It's become normal to avoid serious or political topics in most situations. As a society, we should not emulate the gridlock of politicians and the lack of respect for opposing opinions. Instead, we need to cultivate an open environment among our friends or family. We should not only expose our children to serious matters, but they should also learn how to converse openly and in a civil and productive manner. Obviously, proper conversational etiquette goes for older family members as well.
Whether you're hosting a holiday dinner or attending one, here are three things to keep in mind for when politics comes to the table:
Know Your Stance
Before sitting down next to your relatives, make sure you understand your viewpoint and stance on certain topics. You should do some research and try to be up-to-date on current happenings that are relevant to the topic you care about. This means you must be an expert on your perspective. A little preparation will help you intelligibly stand behind your ideas.
Civil And Open Demeanor
It's all about tact. You don't have to be the world's best diplomat, but you should choose your words and exercise consideration and openness to the others involved. If you show up to the table with a combative attitude then you are bound to get a reactive response from those around you. Being civil and open also means understanding when to disengage or change the topic and when to voice a point that should be taken into consideration for the conversation. Take the time and patience to talk and listen. People form their viewpoints and understand matters in different ways. If you're around people you care about, then offer a productive dialogue about the issues that concern you.
Don't Make It Personal
At the core of it, political conversations with family and friends are simply about politics. The conversations about immigration, the economy, elections, and etc. should not be some subversive put-down to the people around you. Nor are these conversations an opportunity to expand your pride. Keep the conversation about the issue, don't make it about the participants. Because it's not that everyone likes to be right, but rather, no one wants to be wrong. Don't automatically assume something about someone or pass a immovable judgements.
The thing to remember is that family gatherings are a time to share and connect. Try to start the evening with openness and compassion and end it with the same mindset. Good luck and let us know how you manage difficult conversations with family and friends!