How do we manage these conversations during holiday parties which are supposed to be about happy topics and how great our year was? Holiday season is always about a month after the election. No matter which camp you fall in, if you don’t manage the conversation, you can leave a holiday gathering feeling tired and exasperated.
(1) Plan the Time: Tell your hosts that you only have an hour and that will allow you an easy exit if the conversations get too heated. You can also say that you may be coming down with something and that you had better get going.
(2) Try to spot a child or a pet: If you want to stay at the party, but desire to mix things up a bit, spotting a child or a pet can get you away from a conversation quicker than you ever thought. Just go over to the pet and pretend you are taking care of it and pet it as long as you need to avoid returning to the conversation. The same goes for a child, you can go off and play with the child and hide from plain sight as long as you need to.
(3) Generations: Sometimes gatherings can bring up tensions between the generations. People who are older may think younger people don’t know what they are talking about since their main source of information is Facebook. The younger generation are responsible for creating “fake news,” which makes their credibility a bigger challenge. Whereas, the older generation fought in the Vietnam war and watched the world change more dramatically.
(4) Trump? Clinton? If the conversation starts to rehash last year’s election results, you can play dumb and give the impression that you are not sure who they are talking about. You can start to discuss your summer travel plans or suggest the guests start singing Christmas carols. Changing the topic is perfectly fine and it’s also ok to say that you simply do not wish to discuss politics.
(5) Listen and Agree: If all the above ideas don’t work and you feel like sticking it out, you can. However, understand that you may start to exhibit signals of disinterest if the conversation goes on and on.
Have a wonderful holiday season and see you in 2018!
Kay Gimmestad, LCSW-C is a business coach and clinician in New York City with 20 years of experience working in the profit and not for profit sectors of Human Resources, Health and Human Services. She has built a reputation for being highly skilled in facilitating behavior change while working with employees, both individually and in groups, on matters relating to performance management, substance abuse, crisis intervention, and stress/wellness.