Shockingly, we are mere weeks away from Holidays. In a couple weeks, we’ll be recovering from our turkey induced comas, some of you, though definitely not me, will be engaging in the great bargain hunt of Black Friday. Most of the things we think of in the holidays are pleasant, but not all. For some people, the holidays are full stressful conversations with people they love, but who they disagree with about incredibly important topics. How in the world are we supposed to navigate these?
Well, for one thing, on a practical level, we probably should just own the fact that walking into the holidays expecting to have a discussion about something that we know is contentious with family members go smoothly might be a bit ambitious. Instead, one of the keys is establishing common ground as the starting point for the conversation. Instead of starting with a disagreement that may be based in multiple levels of differing values and perspectives, we need to figure out what we agree on and build from there. Don’t start your holidays by diving into an argument about who is the best political candidate. You haven’t discussed what you mean by best, then how will you say which one fits the bill?
Another important thing to remember is charity. Make sure that you are entering into the conversation in good faith, approaching it like you want them to. If you want them to be open to the possibility that they may be wrong, you need to do the same. It isn’t like you should assume you’re wrong, but you should be willing to consider the possibility. Really listen to the points they make, don’t just wait to pounce on a buzz word like the kids waiting for the dessert table to be opened. Ask questions looking to understand, not to probe for weaknesses. If you want to be heard, make sure you hear them.
Last, but never least, remember that love and challenge need to be paired together. It’s the holidays. We’re spending the holidays with people we love, don’t lose sight of that in our discussions. We challenge each other, question each other, and push each other because love means we have to. We want the people who matter to us to grow, so we have push. But that love comes first. Put that into practice now, and by the time the holidays arrive, it’ll be second nature.