7 Tips for Handling Uncomfortable Conversations at Holiday Gatherings

Difficult Conversations At Christmas Dinner

As the holidays approach, many of us will be gathering with family and friends and inevitably we’ll end up engaging in conversations revolving around topics that can be difficult such as politics and religion. I find value in listening to others’ points of view, and often I find that my own view on a topic will shift and evolve as I gain more information.

It is not always easy to discuss these two topics, though, as they can be quite contentious and can easily lead to a lot of disagreement and heated debates which is not something we want or need during the holidays. Furthermore, without being careful, conversations about religion and politics can even become offensive or hurtful to certain individuals. That is why it is important to be aware of one’s own beliefs and to be ready to listen to other people’s beliefs without trying to convert or convince them of anything.

When discussing politics and religion, it is important to have an open mind and to be respectful of the other person’s beliefs. It is also important to be mindful of language, as words can be easily taken the wrong way and can lead to misunderstandings. It is also helpful to focus on facts and stay away from personal attacks or generalizations.

Overall, conversations about religion and politics can be difficult, but if approached the right way they can be educative and insightful.

Here are 7 tips for having difficult conversations at holiday gatherings:

Begin conversations with Bold Kindness. 

Demonstrating respect is often the first step to getting someone to listen to another’s opinion. Ask honest questions to probe deeper into the other person’s thought process without making them feel judged or insulted.

Practice Confident Humility. 

This means that one should not approach a conversation with the intent to prove someone wrong. Instead, frame it as an opportunity to learn more about the topic from different perspectives. Ask questions like “How did you come to that conclusion?”

Listen and Wait for Your Turn. 

This means allowing someone to finish speaking before jumping in quickly with rebuttals. It is important to take this time to understand the other person’s reasoning, even if one does not agree with it.

Be Smart and Respectful. 

Know that one conversation might not change another person’s point of view. It is important to be respectful and focus more on listening and understanding than on making one’s own opinions heard.

Ask for Consent Before Sharing. 

Before beginning to share a different point of view, consider obtaining permission from the other person to do so. Present the facts and explain one’s reasoning while being courteous.

Agree to Disagree. 

It is possible for two people to come to different conclusions with the same information, so it is important to accept and respect that. Try to remember that sometimes one is disagreeing on personal preference rather than right and wrong.

No Name-Calling. 

Name-calling and labeling someone with derogatory terms or phrases is not a productive way to have a conversation. If things become heated, politely excuse yourself from the conversation to take a break.…

Conclusion

There is great value for all of us in engaging in civil conversations about tough topics. When there are disagreements, it can lead to potential conflicts, and if these conflicts aren’t handled in a healthy way, it can lead to a loss of love, kindness, and trust in the community.

It is important to recognize that how we handle disagreements can have an effect on many people in our lives, such as family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Having a civil conversation is not weak–it is an indicator of strength and control, something that is beneficial to everyone. There is even a chance that you could change someone’s opinion!

If there’s anything you’d like to add to this conversation we’d love to hear it. Add it to the comment section below.

David Goldstein
David launched Boomer Buyer Guides with his wife Alice to provide Baby Boomers with trustworthy, well-researched information about products and services that Baby Boomers buy. Learn more about David Goldstein