As we sit down to enjoy our holiday meals, there is generally talking in between bites. Small talk to start. The weather. The kids. But things can sometimes take a tense turn. Political discourse can be enjoyable if both sides are willing to debate. But we caught up with an expert at Texas Tech to help give set limits on talking politics at the Thanksgiving table.
“I think it’s about kind of realizing your hot button topics, and you know for some people it’s religion, some people it’s politics, some people it’s you know, animal rights or whatever. So realizing what your passion is. Reading the room is really important.”
Amanda Wheeler is the Assistant Director at the Texas Tech Student Counseling Center and she has some tips for helping you avoid those hot button issues that can ruin family interactions.
She says to, “Watch for non verbals, watch for how people are reacting and interacting with you. If you’re starting to talk about your passion area, and people are getting defensive, angry things like that.. Being able to take a step back, take a breath and say you know what, let’s change topics. And that is perfectly okay. We don’t do that enough. To say, you know, this is not helpful. Again we are not going anywhere. Let’s just move on.”
And for multi-generational families, it can be difficult to agree on topics because of value differences between the ages.
Amanda says, “if you’re talking about politics, for example. And there is a lot of division with that. Then find something within the political arena, that is safe to kind of slowly inch your way into so then all of a sudden you’re talking about animals, instead of Republicans vs. Democrats.
Wheeler says remembering you are all family and that this time you have together is special can help ground your holiday in gratitude instead of discourse.
She finishes stating, “and so realizing that it’s not a competition. It’s not something that needs to be one, and kind of having a little bit of empathy for the other side. Maybe you don’t agree with what they’re saying. But being able to take a step back and say. Okay, I don’t agree with it but this is how I think that they got there and I can understand that piece. I can understand that maybe their life has taken them to believe these things where my life has taken me to believe these other thing.”
And hopefully everyone can have a wonderful stress free holiday.