Thursday, December 22, 2011

Tip sheet: Talking politics with your family

A recent headline in the satirical weekly The Onion declared, “95 Percent Of Opinions Withheld On Visit To Family.” You know it’s true. We all have techniques for surviving political conversations at family gatherings (or avoiding that minefield altogether). We’ve been asking Public Insight Network sources for their tips. The response has been pretty good — sometimes even great. Help us make this list amazing by sharing your strategies and war stories. Here are nine tips — the best of what we’ve received so far:

1.    All political conversations can be neutralized by changing the subject to pets. It may be boring, but no one will hate each other.

2.    Chew your food very slowly, with your lips sealed. After swallowing, keep your lips sealed.

3.    Treat it like a senior citizen dinner party: Talk surgeries, medications, grandchildren — not necessarily in that order.

4.    How to talk politics with family? Don’t!!!

5.    Go into it knowing they won’t change their mind and you won’t change your mind (but you might learn something).

6.    If you are a liberal, stock up on jokes you can tell about liberals. It shows you can laugh at yourself. Humor can diffuse things quickly.

7.    When someone asks for your opinion, just say, “ I’m sorry. I wasn’t listening. I was thinking about how great life is.”

8.    Give your opinion only when you can back it up with facts and specific personal examples.

9.    Sometimes silence is truly golden and powerful.

Public Insight Network sources: 1. Alex Seigfried (Media, PA); 2. Edmund W. Boyle (Upper Darby, PA); 3. Russell Craig (Hockessin, DE); 4. Amanda Ladyha (Chaska, MN); 5. Conner McCall (Somewhere in MN); 6. Robert  Filipczak (Kimball, MN); 7. Paul Takushi (Davis, CA); 8. Robert Kutter (Grey Eagle, MN); 9. Hazel Feldman (New York, NY)