With holiday dinners around the corner, many are dreading conversations about loaded—possibly political—topics. At times avoidance is the best policy, and perhaps you can just let someone else sit next to Uncle Ned or Aunt Matilda. But, if the relationship is such that you really want to have a calm and respectful exchange of ideas, Eben Weitzman, graduate program director of conflict resolution at University of Massachusetts Boston, has some advice (https://bit.ly/2RmFuJG). “If what you want to do is get to a mutual understanding, really inquire to understand,” he says. “Listen with interest, and without judgment.”
Some things you could say:
If things get heated despite your best efforts, take a break. Withdraw for a while, until your adrenaline stops pumping. Deep listening is the only way out of deep conflict. And listening is too often the first casualty during contentious conversations. (Tweet it!) So, try listening until you can tell their story better than they did.
What holiday conversation are you dreading and how do you plan to handle it? To join the conversation, click "comments" above.