Holiday Politics 101: How to enjoy family time – drama free!

 

2017 is coming to a close and the holiday season is upon us.

For many of us, the holidays mean “family time” ….  And those words can have the power to fill us with excitement and joy — or perhaps, a bit of apprehension.

I come from a large family, full of different personalities, points of view,  attitudes and plenty of competitive spirit!  Conventional wisdom says the family table is no place for certain discussions. However, I’ve never agreed with that sentiment.  If we don’t speak our truth, how do we gain insight and move towards a better understanding of each other and our relative views? How do we begin to reshape our thinking? As a family, we may not always agree — but we do understand the origin of our shared values.  

For me and many of my friends, it seems as if  2017 has put the spotlight on situations that have done more to divide us than unite us. It’s clear the world is struggling with conflicting views —  and that this is a time for patience, kindness and compassion.

With that, here are some tips to help you to express your views while still keeping the conversation light and conflict free.

** Know your audience.  Stay aware of your words, who you are speaking to and how you approach your topic.  Be gentle, use tact — and pick your moments. Be mindful that our differences and views will not always be aligned- we can seemingly experience the same situation but our perspective is never the same. Having a realistic expectation that the person you’re engaging with is not going to share the same views as you is the best way to avoid disappointment and stay positive.

** Be curious! We can all learn from each other.  Ask questions so you can fully understand you friend or family member’s perspective. This will help you find areas of commonality, agreement, and even feeling and expressing empathy. Listen and speak with compassion. The best way to truly understand someone is to listen first. The willingness to listen intently for the sake of growth and not for winning the argument will be appreciated by all parties.

** Always remember,  you have a choice not to engage in conversation that is offensive and may lead to escalation. You are not obligated to provide a counter argument and with consideration you can take the conversation elsewhere to avoid pitfalls. And if all else fails, simply draw a boundary and say “I’d prefer not to engage in this topic tonight. Let’s keep it light and just enjoy each other”

Keep in mind, whether you’re spending time with friends, family, or strangers,  always remember we are blessed to have each other.  Stay focused on the love that brings us all together.

Happy Holidays from all of us at GetZENd!

Photo: Annie Spratt, Unsplash