How to Get Along During the Holidays Despite Post-Election Conflict

How to Get Along During the Holidays Despite Post-Election Conflict

November 24, 20202 min read

With partisan lines drawn and family gatherings approaching, you may be thinking, "How am I going to survive the holidays?" Well, if you don't want to sever relationships with friends and family, it's essential to understand some key elements of communication.

Heidi Rose, PhD, professor and chair of Villanova University's Communication Department, has expertise in speech communication—and gave some tips to remember at your next holiday get-together.

When speaking to others about controversial topics, she advises, "It is important to think about how the other person might perceive or hear you and what you can control, e.g., tone of voice and calm manner. It's also important to actively listen to the other person, e.g., to remain present (don't plan your reply before they're done), to not interrupt, to suspend judgment and to ask questions when you don't understand."

While some conversation concerning politics might be tempting, remembering where your relationships stand with others is important to maintaining these bonds. At a gathering, Dr. Rose also gave tips to understand where you fit in with your group dynamic.

"Recognize the different selves we perform and different roles we play with different people in our lives and how those roles and selves impact the interpersonal dynamics and the consequent challenges of talking openly and transparently. These roles and selves are especially important to recognize at holiday times, even if the usual large gatherings are less likely to occur in person this year," said Dr. Rose.

In the end, prioritizing relationships may take precedent over differing views—and require acceptance that you can't always change another person's perspective.

"Ultimately accepting that despite your best efforts you may not achieve closure—but at least you'll have moved towards greater understanding of where the other person is coming from, and you'll have done so with respect and empathy, on your terms, with what you can control," said Dr. Rose.

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