Considering the different divides that are prone to show up in moments of community, it’s important to be able to navigate them well without opting out of communal moments entirely. This Thanksgiving, here are some tips to help make your time together slightly more peaceful.
1) Focus on getting to know the person
Often, Thanksgiving provides a unique opportunity to spend time with family and friends we don’t always see. Take time to talk about what is going on in their lives: ask questions about their hobbies, what they are into lately, and how they’ve been doing.
2) Take ownership of your emotions
Try to notice bodily reactions that show you might be uncomfortable during a conversation – clenched jaw, tense shoulders, stomach knots. Take a break, practice a mental cooldown, or ask yourself what it is about the conversation that is making you tense.
3) Listen to understand, not just respond
Before sharing your opinion, make sure to ask clarifying questions like “Why do you feel that way?,” “How did you come to that perspective?” or “Can you help me understand….” These can also help you stall your response until you’re ready to respond in a way that is in line with your values and intentions.
4) Take breaks if needed
It’s fun to be with friends and family, but don’t be afraid to take small breaks if you’re feeling overwhelmed or overstimulated. Don’t underestimate the calming effect of a quick trip to the bathroom, some time playing with the family dog, taking a walk, or coloring with the kids.
5) Add some structure to the event
Adding a couple of games, icebreakers or planned activities to the event can help give people a role or purpose during their time together. This can be a fun way to work as a team with the focus on an external goal or project.