The holidays are just around the corner, and I’m stressed about the political conversations that will certainly come up. My family has very strong political opinions, and they’re very different from my own. I hate engaging in these conversations and would rather avoid them altogether. How can I politely tune my family out when politics come up? – Andi in Avon, CT
LYNN: This is absolutely one of my been there, avoid that situations! Here are a few tips that may help:
- Discuss the rules of engagement before you come together for the holiday celebration. Ask everyone to avoid politics as you all have so many things of real value to share during this special time together.
- When the conversation takes an unfortunate turn to politics – remind everyone that you agreed not to discuss politics and have a fond antidote ready to share to shift the dialogue.
- If a few of the family members can’t leave it alone, demand they take it outside so the rest of the family can enjoy being together. Send them on a walk to work off their angst, and ask them to return only when they are ready to share in family time.
Finally, if it gets ugly, be prepared to leave and actually leave if needed.
TINA: This conundrum exists in most family gatherings. I would agree with the suggestion to set rules of engagement and have a family commitment for neutrality. Our family has been known to have what we call a “red flag word” such as “squirrel” – a word that any of us can say aloud and stop the conversation from getting too heated.
Lynn Whitbeck is the co-founder and President of Petite2Queen. She is focused on identifying and evaluating opportunities for women at work, helping them define their personal roadmap. She dedicates herself to delivering tools and insights, embracing visualization of the big picture, and identifying and implementing the minutiae of detail. Lynn aims to share lessons learned along her journey and enable positive uplift for women.