Survival Tips for When Holiday Talk Turns Political

It’s that time of year when families and friends get together to celebrate the joys of the season. It’s also the time when some dread those gatherings because someone in the room is determined to ignite a heated political debate. (This person is never you.) One study found that after last year’s election, people cut their time at holiday parties by more than half an hour.

While some situations inevitably involve deeper issues and struggle, here are a few survival tips that can reduce tensions—at least for the day.


Establish a ‘no politics’ zone

Rules should be clear. When you’re at the table, you’re there to eat turkey, not bite each other’s heads off. Of course, this zone can be applied to any other room as well.



Don’t take the bait

If someone keeps trying to start an argument by dropping words like “Trump,” “Hillary,” or “fake news,” let them talk—but reply as if they had asked you, “What is your favorite fast food?” For example, if they say, “Fake news is ruining our democracy,” respond with, “My favorite fast food is Taco Bell. What’s yours?”



Facts? What facts?

It’s a scientific fact that people aren’t interested in hearing your facts. Experts says it’s best to try to discuss feelings instead. (Saying, “I feel like you’re a nitwit!” isn’t what they mean, however.)



Stop telling people they’re wrong

Someone telling you you’re wrong probably never swayed your opinion. In turn, there’s little likelihood that the person you say that to will reply, “Yes, you’re right about that. Thank you for enlightening me.”



Take a breath

Go to another room and regain your composure. Bring a brown paper bag if you think you might need it.


Remember the host or hostess

Someone (or several someones) has done a lot of work to make the day special. So be civil for their sake.



Have an escape plane

If all else fails, it’s okay to leave early. Also, make sure no one is parked behind you in the driveway.

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About the Author

Stan Friedman is the news and online editor for the Covenant Companion and is grateful for the opportunity to serve in a job that combines his newspaper and pastoral ministry experience. He has been to 15 Bruce Springsteen concerts in four cities and listened to “Thunder Road” an average of at least once a day for 41 years.

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