Staying civil with politically opposite family & friends this Thanksgiving
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Thanksgiving dinner is a time when family and friends gather to celebrate. However that joy can go sideways when political topics or other divisive issues are brought up.
Ashley Virtue, Director of External Relations at the National Conflict Resolution Center, was in studio to talk about how you can help your family get along this holiday season.
1. Now is the time to practice talking politics. It might be uncomfortable to think about, but avoiding opposing views will just act as a pressure cooker, making things even more tense this time next year during the heat of the 2020 election. Practicing civil dialogue now, while you are not in the heat of a post-election month and all of the emotions that come with it.
2. Train your brain to respond to dissent. Your brain is a muscle, and like any other muscle in your body, it needs to train and practice in order to handle tough situations. Start now by identifying any words, phrases, or topics that get your blood boiling, and observe your physical response when they come up. Then work on responses that you can easily turn to that can calm you down and allow you to engage with a clear head, as well as an open mind and heart.
3. It’s OK if it doesn’t feel natural at first, or at all. It’s human nature to want to avoid conflict, and only have political conversations with people who share your views. Remind yourself that it’s OK if talking about politics with people who disagree with you feels uncomfortable, but it’s important to overcome that hesitation in order to have effective dialogue.
4. Remember why everyone came together for the holidays in the first place. When all is said and done, you may not agree with fellow table guests about the President, gun control, abortion, or immigration. But take time to remember your shared common bonds. You all cherish the memory of your late grandparents, or maybe enjoy talking about what the kids are up to. No matter how deep the political differences are, your family shares certain values, and it’s important to remember those when things get heated at the dinner table.