Here’s How to Disagree at Thanksgiving Dinner

Photo:  NDAB Creativity (Shutterstock)
Photo: NDAB Creativity (Shutterstock)

Even the most like-minded families don’t agree on everything, and holiday dinners are often the setting of heated discussions on controversial topics. Of course, we don’t plan for that to happen, but when you think about it, the timing makes sense, given that people who may not otherwise see each other are gathered around the same table.

So if these tough conversations are inevitable, you might as well make them count. Here are a few ways to make disagreements more productive.

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How to make disagreements more productive

As long as disagreements are bound to happen, here’s how to make the most out of them, and walk away with your relationships intact.

Be respectful

This should go without saying, but it’s entirely possible to disagree with someone without being a jerk about it. When people feel mistreated, they tend to tune out, so in addition to wanting to be respectful towards those you’re dining with, chance are it’ll also lead to a better conversation. This includes refraining from raising your voice while trying to make your point.

Agree to disagree

As soon as it becomes clear that everyone is not on the same page when it comes to a particular topic or issue, it’s best to acknowledge that right away, and agree to disagree. Ideally, that would change the tone and feeling of the conversation from one that tries to get people to change their mind, to one that’s more about people explaining their position and the reasons behind it.

Move on when it’s time

When a disagreement has run its course and may be veering into less-than-friendly territory, know when to shut it down. Or, if there are topics that are so emotionally charged that no good can come from discussing them, avoid those completely.

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