Whether you’re hosting or attending, you can do a lot to make your Thanksgiving a peaceful and pleasant event by offering a few tried and true approaches.
Before you even pass the turkey, set the tone by saying a few words about how nice it is to be together this year. Then ask everyone to join you in keeping it upbeat by agreeing to some simple ‘rules of engagement’: 1) It’s ok to disagree, and 2) No matter the topic, be respectful of one another.
When potentially inflammatory topics arise (probably anything related to the president + other hot button topics like immigration, or whatever makes the temperature rise in your family), invoke a few additional ideas for how to approach the conversation: 1) Listen with curiosity to learn about views that are different from your own, 2) Speak to be understood, not to convince, 3) Know that everyone’s experience is different and that’s ok, and 4) Celebrate the things that unite and connect us.
If things start to get heated, despite your best efforts, try keeping it light by 1) Bringing some humor to the situation (whoa, I know what’s gonna be on our ‘no talk list’ for next year!) or 2) changing the subject (What was your favorite movie this year?)
Preserving relationships and good will is a worthwhile goal which really costs you nothing. Good luck and enjoy the day!
Author, The Power of Difference: From Conflict to Collaboration in Five Steps