MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - With a recent general election, active movements and a new president-elect, this year’s holiday gatherings are destined to develop discussions about politics.
In a time when differing standpoints have even our social circles polarized, Kristen Cvancara, Ph. D., Professor in Communication Studies and University Fellowship Coordinator at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and Andrew Archer, MSW, LICSW, Clinical Social Worker and Therapist at MN Mental Health Services, explain some helpful tips to keep the conversation civil.
“Anticipate and think about what their goals are when they’re going to be communicating and they have the potential for those conversations to come up,” says Cvancara.
Both Cvancara and Archer stress the importance of entering the conversation with an idea of what your contribution will accomplish. Going in with a goal such as simply letting your loved one be heard, is the most effective way to ease into a discussion.
“If you can suspend identity labels that you’ve already probably applied to people, then you’re starting to hear their perspective on things, their viewpoints in a brand new way,” Archer added.
In the midst of talking about tough topics, they say it is best to be an active listener to those around you.
“If you actively listen, it doesn’t mean that you have to agree with them, but to actively listen is a way for you to show respect,” Cvancara stated.
On the political stage, politicians often fight to meet in the middle of an issue, but that doesn’t mean your family can’t find a compromise.
Archer says, “Land concepts that are gonna relate to that person and understand them rather than, again, trying to compete with them and win the argument.”
If the conversation does escalate, there are things you can do to mediate the discussion.
“Just because a family member or maybe a couple choose to be a little argumentative or maybe rude, it doesn’t mean that we have to play the same game. We can choose how we respond,” Cvancara mentioned.
And at the end of the day, it all boils down to respect and remembering that our different walks of life often form our beliefs about what is best for the common good.
Cvancara concluded, “If you allow the negativity in the conversation to overtake the entire conversation, well then you’ve kind of lost the attention of the positive things that you want to focus on with your family.”