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 upcoming family gatherings you may be thinking: how am I going to survive the holidays? When you don’t want to sever relationships with friends and family, it is essential to understand some key elements of communication.

Heidi Rose, PhD, professor and chair of the communication department, who has expertise in speech communication, 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 might the other person perceive/hear you and what can you control, e.g. tone of voice, calm manner, show them you're listening; how are you actively listening to the other person, e.g., remain present (don't plan your reply before they're done), don't interrupt, suspend judgment, ask them questions when you don't understand.”

While some conversation 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/selves impact the interpersonal dynamics and the consequent challenges of talking openly and transparently. These roles/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.

Sometimes, prioritizing relationships may take precedent over differing views. And that you can prepare to accept there won’t always be any change in viewpoints.

“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.

To speak with Rose, email

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