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How to keep the conversation civilized?


Evelyn

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I've run into a bit of a dilemma where some friends and family derail every conversation with angry comments about Brexit, Teresa May, Tony Blair, Trump, immigrants, the economy, religion, and other tumultuous subjects. I can't solve things by uninviting these people to our holiday meal as some are close family and their absence will be noticed and mourned by others. We're going to have to smooth it over instead. How can I help keep the conversation civilized? When someone veers towards the deep end, how can I quickly move the conversation back to more lighthearted topics? I'd like to make a blanket rule about leaving these topics at the door, but my mum is afraid it will seem fussy. Edited by Evelyn
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Most people love to chat about themselves, so just ask them friendly questions. Ask about their hobbies, their favourite rugby team, how their child is doing, what film they want to see, anything like that should be safe.

I have used the blanket rule and direct approach before and much as it may have seemed fussy at the beginning, everyone else got a hint. From then on, family gatherings stopped being places to discuss politics, politicians and so on. It is much easier to deal with close friends and family than outright strangers.

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I know how this feels because there are a few in my family that are very sensitive to topics that affect them. My method is simple, tell a joke that is not related to the heated subject. It often calms down everyone who is participating in the discussion.
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Family gatherings can be quite a nightmare because people from all walks of life and with different ideologies will definitely clash at some point. It is always best to set rules from the beginning so that everyone understands what is expected of them.
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I used to talk politics with my dad and we could keep it civil, regardless of our different views. But as time has progressed, I've been able to tell that he's gone further away from my viewpoints and it'd probably be best if we just avoid that subject. Which is what we've done for about a year now, haven't talked politics at all. The rest of my family just doesn't talk about politics when we see each other. My sister and my mom are more in line with my views, but even still, it's just not something we get into.
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Thanks to the ace advice here, we had a lovely Christmas meal. Mum finally caved and got the word out that there would be no religious or political debates while visiting. They needed to take that down to the pub if it was such an issue. I took the advice about asking lots of questions to get relatives chatting about themselves and it had a massive impact on keeping things positive. I think the drone scandal at Gatwick airport helped us along too. Unlike Brexit, this was something we could all agree was rotten and we felt terrible for those who had to cancel their holiday plans. Verbally noting how lucky we were to be together helped loads.
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I used to talk politics with my dad and we could keep it civil, regardless of our different views. But as time has progressed, I've been able to tell that he's gone further away from my viewpoints and it'd probably be best if we just avoid that subject. Which is what we've done for about a year now, haven't talked politics at all. The rest of my family just doesn't talk about politics when we see each other. My sister and my mom are more in line with my views, but even still, it's just not something we get into.

Come to think of it, discussing politics doesn't seem to ever add any value because politicians don't easily change their stand. We stopped discussing this topic when it became apparent that the divergent views were causing a lot of divisions.

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