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Guide to driving difficult conversations during holiday gatherings


As the holiday season approaches, you may find yourself preparing for potentially challenging conversations about politics, religion, race, or gender, for example, with family members and friends. Don’t worry, we prepared a simple guide with some tips to help you effectively navigate these discussions.

Read it and share it further. Exploring effective approaches to engage in these conversations can bring you through constructive dialogue that can foster understanding, bridge differences, and promote unity and inclusion.

1.Agree to disagree

Recognising that people may hold different opinions on a particular matter is a respectful way of acknowledging diverse perspectives without escalating a conversation into conflict. Don’t push your ideas too hard and don’t try to convince others strongly. Instead, recognise your differences, understand that you might not agree, and keep going without getting upset with the other(s).

You can say:

“I appreciate your point of view, even though we may not fully agree.”

“It’s clear we have different views on this, and that’s fine”.

2. Ask questions:

Gain insights without pointing fingers. Use non-judgmental language.

– “Can you tell me more about that?”

– “What makes you feel that way?”

3. Don’t take it personally:

When it’s your turn, explain your feelings. Focus on individual issues and stories, avoiding finger-pointing or generalisations.

– “In my experience…”

– “This policy hurts me because it restricts my…”

4. Bring the focus back:

Check in on how the conversation is going. Return to the original topic if needed, this might help avoiding unnecessary arguments or getting off track into more difficult subjects:

– “I feel like we’ve gotten off topic. Let’s focus on the original issue.”

5. Take a break:

If things get heated, it’s okay to step back. Recognise when you need a break, when you need to walk away to cool off, or when you want to stop or not enter the conversation:

– “I need a moment to collect my thoughts. Let’s continue later.”

– “I appreciate our discussion, but I think it’s best for us to conclude for now.”

– “I am not comfortable discussing this. Can we speak about something else?”