How to handle political talk at the Thanksgiving table - KPTV - FOX 12

How to handle political talk at the Thanksgiving table

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Thanksgiving is a time to come together with family and friends, but as many sit around the dinner table this year, there might be some contentious conversation especially when it comes to politics.

FOX 12 spoke with Dr. James Mason, who is the Chief Diversity Officer for Providence Health. He says family gatherings can sometimes be contentious on their own, but this year, with such a divided country politically and the election fresh on everyone's minds, you could find yourself in the middle of a delicate situation.

Dr. Mason says there are some things to keep in mind this holiday.

First, he says if you're hosting this Thanksgiving you set the tone for your guests, and if you're really concerned there could be a problem, say something to family and friends as you welcome them inside.

If something offensive does come up, remember that the person that said it probably meant well and it's important to show them grace.

If you feel like you need to intervene, timing is important. You don't want to embarrass the person in front of other guests, so it might be a good idea to take them aside privately.

If some people are determined to have a no-hold barred political debate, you might suggest they go to the deck or garage where they can have that conversation away from everyone else.

FOX 12 asked Dr. Mason if it's a good idea to just say that politics are off the table during Thanksgiving, but he said he does not recommend that, especially if there's an elephant in the room. But it is important to set ground rules and remind people not to get angry.

"If you're going to have a discussion, is it an emotional discussion or is it a reasoned discussion? If one person is fairly emotional in their discourse and the other person is being reasoned we might not be speaking the same language," said Dr. Mason.

Dr. Mason also suggests just saying 'ouch' if something offensive is said, because that slows down the rhetoric and signals to the person talking that it might be a good idea to change direction without adding more fuel to the fire.

But at the end of the day, remember these are your friends and relatives whom you love and have much more in common with them than just politics.

So you might have to agree to disagree, learn to move on and enjoy the Thanksgiving meal.

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