7 Tips for Holiday Table Talks

7 Tips for Holiday Table Talks

November 25, 2019
Category: Resource
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A dark blue infographic with winter holiday designs.

The weather is getting colder. Some of us are decorating our houses and many of us are planning holiday gatherings with friends and family. Are you looking forward to catching up with everyone, but nervous about the conversation turning to touchy topics like politics or current events?

Have no fear – NCCJ has you covered! It’s both possible and important to have compassionate conversations with people you don’t always agree with. Here are our tips for creating connection, compassion and community around the holiday table.

  1. Don’t assume they agree with you. Just because you share DNA or a last name doesn’t mean you share viewpoints.
  2. Stay calm. If someone says something that makes your blood boil, slow down. Pause and reflect before you respond.
  3. Listen to understand. Ask questions to help clarify, but don’t interrupt.
  4. Exercise empathy. Instead of judging, try to put yourself in their shoes. Why do they feel the way they do? What values and experiences helped form their opinion?
  5. Use “I” statements. When it’s your turn to talk, explain how you feel (“In my experience…” or “The way I see it…”) It helps encourage others to listen to you.
  6. Value your relationships. “Being right” feels good, but not at the expense of your relationships. Sometimes it’s necessary to agree to disagree, so that you can keep talking and sharing ideas.
  7. Find common ground. If your differences become too tough to talk about, focus on what brought you together over the holidays and shift the conversation toward common interests.

We hope you find these helpful as you reconnect with family and friends over the holidays. (View and download a printable version of these 7 Tips.)

As you practice compassion and empathetic listening with your loved ones, don’t forget that everyone deserves to be treated with respect – and including YOU! It’s always OK to step back and take a moment for yourself. Check out some of our favorite tips for self-care.