How to Avoid Politics at the Dinner Table

Family dinners are the worst place you can discuss politics.

Tis the season for family arguments. We all know this going into the holiday season. While discussing politics at the dinner table is pretty much universally frowned upon, in this political climate it is very hard to avoid.

We are living in time when the disparity between generations is especially obvious. Everybody has their opinion, and social media has created monsters out of us. We want to stand on our soapbox and air out our own politics, while simultaneously convincing everyone around us to agree without hearing their own opinions.

While I would argue that almost anything can be solved with an open and honest conversation, the Christmas dinner table is not the place for it. I would go so far as to say the holidays aren’t the place for it, either.

So if you find yourself sucked into a political conversation you don’t want, here are a few ways to escape:

I’m not really informed enough to have an opinion on that.’

Even though we all want to be right, sometimes we just don’t have enough information. Telling someone you don’t have enough information to make an opinion deprives them of a viewpoint to argue, and shuts the conversation down.

’Can I interrupt? We need to discuss …’

If you feel a conversation spiraling out of control, you can regain control by interrupting. Especially if multiple people are involved, it provides the opportunity for others to jump in, and help move the conversation in a healthier direction.

READ MORE: Five Ways to Save Your Sanity During the Holidays

‘I feel differently. But I respect your opinion, and you make an interesting point.’

Validating someone’s point allows them to think they have won. After you make this statement, stop talking. If they keep going, you have created the opportunity to change the subject.

‘I see that you feel strongly about this, but I’m a little uncomfortable talking about it. Can we change the subject?’

Sometimes you have to be blunt. If a conversation is getting out of hand, calling it out can help. If they won’t let it go, you have created the opportunity to step away from them with grace.

‘While I love and respect you, I don’t think we are going to see eye to eye on this. So I refuse to engage any further.’

This sentence is really a conversation ender. Once you say this, if they continue to engage, you have every right to step away, without saying anything else.

Just remember that especially during the holidays, you are responsible for the energy you put out, and the energy you take on. Be mindful of that, and don’t let anyone pull you into a conversation you don’t want to have.

Published by karenmsutton

HSS Orthopaedic surgeon in sports medicine | Mother of 4 amazing children | Team physician for USA Women's Lacrosse | ACL injury expert

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