This question is about what to do when people are talking politics at holiday parties.
Even before the election, we’ve been in social situations where friends have engaged in heated political discussions. Starting off as social banter, it often escalates into anger.
At our upcoming holiday party, we’re hoping the election won’t be the elephant in the room: either nobody will talk politics or the elephant will take over the room. How do we cope with the anger we’re experiencing within our circle of friends, acquaintances and work colleagues?
–Alix, Dover, MA
Unless you know everyone’s political affiliation, talking politics is trouble. You need to handle the tone of your event nonconfrontationally.
Listen to the conversations as you circumnavigate the room, hoping that you don’t overhear a guest deliberately antagonizing another guest. Is the conversation potentially inflammatory? Is a guest becoming argumentative after a couple of glasses of holiday eggnog?
Edge your way into the conversation by asking specific questions that encourage talk about family news.
- Who’s applying to college and where?
- Talk about science: what do you think of Cape Wind wind farm (or the Block Island Wind Farm)?
- What are you watching?
- What are you reading?
- What are you listening to?
Talking politics at any event is trouble. Above all, don’t refer to our future president as the pussy-grabber-in-chief-elect.
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