Thanksgiving and Politics at the Table

By Victoria Robertson on November 26, 2019

More often than not, Thanksgiving is a time for arguments with your family, as a dinner table full of individuals with conflicting beliefs doesn’t typically lead to anything good. And while many families will try to avoid this topic altogether, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to avoid it entirely. So it’s better to simply brace yourself and arm yourself with the know-how to avoid these issues altogether.

For this reason, and in the interest of helping you to survive your family’s Thanksgiving meal, here are 6 ways to combat Thanksgiving and politics at the table.

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1. Avoid Getting Heated

One of the biggest mistakes that individuals make when at the Thanksgiving dinner table and discussing politics is to get a little too heated in the midst of the arguments. Avoid this issue at all costs!

Getting heated typically leads to arguments that you can’t take back, and it’s going to make the day more awkward than it is fun. For this reason, simply avoid getting heated and, if you feel that you’re too passionate about an issue, stay quiet and think about something else.

2. Steer the Conversation Elsewhere

You’ll likely end up having to steer the conversation elsewhere several times throughout the day. In some instances, you may not be involved, but you will notice that the family members that are feel far too passionately and they aren’t going to agree.

When this happens, make sure you steer the conversation elsewhere, avoiding issues where you can. Throw out some fun anecdotes from your time at school, or perhaps even distract them with other, lighter news. Whatever you can do to stop the argument and steer the conversation somewhere else will definitely be in your best interest.

3. Stick to the Facts

Another error that individuals make when sitting at the Thanksgiving table and discussing politics is that they won’t stick to the facts. When you’re discussing politics, it’s important that you are informed and speaking without getting to an emotional level.

Only interject when you feel that you can keep a level head, and when you’re sure that you can stick to the facts. If you know that you’re too passionate about a topic, or that you aren’t informed enough to comment, make sure you don’t contribute to that conversation. Again, it sounds like common sense, but in the heat of the moment, it’s easy to throw out unfounded information.

4. Know Your Audience

There are some arguments that just aren’t worth having, and more often than not, politics at the family dinner table is one of those times that you’ll want to avoid an argument. If you know that your family members are on one side of the political spectrum and you are on the complete opposite, it’s not worth attempting to have a conversation.

If you think about it, it’s so important to know your audience, as there are some individuals that you will never be able to win over, and others that are more open to your side of an argument. If you know a family member isn’t that type of person, don’t push the conversation!

5. Keep Things Light

A little levity can go a long way during some heated, political debates. For this reason, throw out some jokes (when appropriately timed) or some more light-hearted conversation starters to move the conversation to something a little more fun.

Thanksgiving doesn’t have to end in a fight every year, and by keeping things light, you’re far more likely to walk away with your familial relationships still intact.

6. Walk Away

Last, but definitely not least, there is always the option to simply walk away from the conversation. Sometimes, politics can be a bit too much, and if you’re not in agreement with any of the items being discussed at the table, you’re always welcome to remove yourself from the situation.

Excuse yourself to walk to the bathroom or to grab another drink from the kitchen. Just taking a few minutes away from the table to compose yourself will certainly help you to keep your head this Thanksgiving. Just remember that not all conversations (especially when they involve politics) will be your cup of tea, so give yourself an out when you need it!

Again, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a battleground between you and your family members. Rather than falling victim to the faux pas of discussing politics at the dinner table, make sure you are prepared to avoid arguments, by any means necessary. The above six steps are a great starting point, but, when in doubt, just walk away and ensure you have a Happy Thanksgiving.

That way, you’ll be able to sit back, relax and enjoy that Thanksgiving turkey that you’ve waiting for since last November.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone! And good luck avoiding the politics!

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