iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Families all over the country are getting ready to sit down and break bread on Thanksgiving Day.
But what if your loved ones — or the other dinner guests — don’t share your political views?
Thanksgiving dinner has more potential to be rife with strife this year than any in recent memory after this heated presidential election. ABC News consulted Sharon Schweitzer, an international etiquette expert, author, and founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide, for advice on how to keep the peace when it comes to talking turkey — and politics — this Thanksgiving.
Of course, you could always make the rule: “no political talk at the table.” But assuming your family will not go along with that, here are her top tips:
“When avoiding political talk is not possible, remember that expressing your beliefs can be done in a way that is not destined for a political brawl,” Schweitzer said. “For example, citing research and concrete reasons why your views align a certain way, will encourage more of an intellectual conversation than a possible war of opinions.”
She also said courtesy is of the utmost importance.
“Actively and deeply listen to those with whom you are conversing. Listen with the goal of understanding and building a bridge toward their point of view. Allow them to express their beliefs, even if you disagree,” she said.
And when the conversation gets heated?
“It’s inevitable that disagreements will arise, but when they do, handle them with grace, dignity and respect,” she said. “Inquire with the intent of seeking information and understanding. For example: ‘That’s an interesting way to look at it and you bring up some valid points. Can you share more on the background of how you came to that perspective?'”
Never raise your voice, show anger, abruptly walk away or make it personal, Schweitzer said.
It’s up to you whether to engage in the conversation or not, she pointed out. Either way, “be tactful, polite, and remember that educated responses will help you either to cordially engage, or graciously decline whenever these inevitable conversations cross your path.”
Finally, she said, it would be helpful to decide what your strategy is before you even arrive at your Thanksgiving destination.
“Take time to self-assess your personal values and your comfort level. Be authentic and make an informed decision about how you wish to respond to political questions. Find a balance that makes you comfortable and stay the course,” Schweitzer said.
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