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Life Skills: Here’s how to handle discussing politics during the holidays

Hannah Herrera Greenspan, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Q: With the holidays around the corner, should you discuss politics?

A: We negotiate politics across our interpersonal relationships everyday, whether they be familial, romantic, platonic and professional. There are certain family dynamics we’re cognizant of. We sometimes frame our approach with our partners differently from, say, with close friends; and our co-workers receive a more curated version of ourselves. Discussing politics over the holidays is just an extension of our daily routine and maintenance of relationships.

Allow political discourse to happen organically — it usually does. Ascertain exactly what you’re discussing: a dissimilar approach to government, a current news item, a specific politician or ideology. Listen carefully because, in today’s current climate, there’s a difference between debating politics and human rights. Challenge others to further explain themselves and to cite supporting reputable sources.

People are living in two completely different information universes that support their biases.

With COVID-19’s second wave looming, people will more than likely be celebrating the holidays with a short list of relatives and friends, some of whom may be problematic.

We’re not afraid of political debates; we’re afraid of finding out who our family and friends really are, based on their viewpoints disguised as “politics.” But if there’s anything that life continues to teach me, it’s that we must never act from a place of fear.

— Terrence Chappell, principal, Chappell Communications Group


A: Absolutely not. It’s no different from any other year. Basically, you want to avoid politics because there are so many different issues involved in politics, so many things tied into it; and everyone has a different opinion. You might be thinking the same thought on one level, but disagree on another, so I wouldn’t go there.

If you do discuss politics, be aware of where you’re holding your conversations, even in your house.

You want to be cordial and if someone brings it up, you want to divert the conversation to something else, like future vacations, or ask about Black Friday shopping deals. When you redirect the conversation, make sure you do this gently, smile and be polite in your tone and manner.

If you’re sure everyone is on a similar page, you can bring up politics, but still keep it light. Politics shouldn’t be the focus of your holiday event.

The holidays are about being cheerful and happy. If you’re hosting something, you want everybody to be comfortable, so you do not want to cause stress. When you’re seeing your family, especially people who have been separated or isolated, you want to keep people’s mental health upbeat and positive.

— Jacquelyn Youst, etiquette expert and owner of Pennsylvania Academy of Protocol

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