Keeping Things Cool When Talking Politics at the Dinner Table

Keeping Things Cool When Talking Politics at the Dinner Table

Dinnertime is meant to bring families together, but can differing opinions tear loved ones apart?

For some, mealtime is a chance to catch up and share what’s on their mind but it may also feel like the perfect opportunity to air their political viewpoints.

No matter which way you lean politically, family is family. It’s better to keep the peace than win an argument about taxes or 2020 candidates. Before sitting down for the next family meal, here are a few quick tips for keeping things cool when talking politics at the dinner table.

Make the Dinner Table Switzerland

Politics are a part of life, which means it isn’t always possible to avoid these conversations with the people we love. It isn’t wrong to talk about current events and it’s alright to get in disagreements from time to time.

However, the dinner table is not the place to do it. No matter how differently you and your mother-in-law or teen might see the world, those differences aren’t so important they should disrupt dinner. If conflict is common when you’re all together, considering declaring the table Switzerland — a neutral space where fighting over politics isn’t on the menu.

Listen Longer

When another person takes an opposing stance, it’s easy to feel threatened or become defensive. There’s a time and place for standing our ground, but that isn’t over a family meal. Make an effort to understand the people in your life by listening to their opinions first.

Listen longer before making your case. There is no harm in letting someone you disagree with hold court. It will strengthen your relationship when you make an effort to get to know how they really feel before sharing your own viewpoint.

Consider Your Bias

Everyone believes they’re right, but chances are everyone is at least a little bit wrong. Being 100% convinced of the accuracy of a belief system can actually be a big, red flag of bias and a hint you’re struggling to see the world from different perspectives.

Being honest about how a worldview can be skewed and manipulated by life experiences, personal values and gaps in education, allows each person to learn and develop a more well-rounded perspective. At family meals, awareness of bias allows for each member to understand why they hold certain convictions and how they could better empathize with opposing opinions.

Give Up on Changing Minds

For the most part, people are committed to their personal opinions and a single conversation isn’t going to change that. Instead of getting hung up on flipping the political views of a loved one, put more effort into enjoying the things you do have in common.

Over time, exposure to how you feel about politics may change the views of the people you care about or it might not. What will ebb and flow, for good or for bad, is how you feel about one another. Make the choice to treat each other with kindness — the whole world could use a little more of that.

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