Debate expert on peaceful family discussions and avoiding arguments over the holidaysNovember 23, 20212 min read
John Koch, senior lecturer and director of debate, is available for commentary on how to avoid heated political conversations and keep the peace while gathering with friends and family over the holidays.
An expert on civil and productive discussions, John's tips include:
- Listen first: The goal of any discussion should be to understand each other’s perspective. Listen to the other person, and you’re likely to find more areas of common ground. You may even learn something you didn’t know before. Remember to remain receptive to the other person’s point of view.
- Ask questions: Sure, you may think you already know all the answer, but odds are you don’t. Once you’ve heard the other person out, ask questions to dig a little deeper and broaden your understanding.
- Be respectful: Having a civil dialogue doesn’t need to be a lost art. You can have a heated discussion without name-calling and put-downs. Don't view the person you’re speaking with as the enemy. Treat others how you would like to be treated, and offer facts and evidence wherever possible to bolster your points.
- Don’t try to win: If you go into a discussion hoping to “win the argument,” you’re going about it wrong. Seek understanding first. If winning and losing are your only options, you’re missing the point.
- Talk about something else: Sure, it’s important to engage with others on topics that you feel passionately about – but be conscious if the conversation is going in the wrong direction. It’s not worth spoiling your dinner (or damaging a relationship). Find another topic and move on.
John Koch Senior Lecturer and Director of Debate
Expert in debate, including argumentation analysis, persuasive techniques and rhetorical theory.