Bridging Divides this Thanksgiving

Rich Harwood offers advice on we can move forward together in these divisive times. Listen to the full audio here.

By Rich Harwood

Every year around this time, people ask: “How do I talk to my family members and guests at Thanksgiving dinner when I fundamentally disagree with their political views?” or “What do I do if my family starts talking about politics or something in the news?”

It’s hard to argue with the people you love. It’s especially hard when so many arguments these days leave no room for listening, understanding and, at times, compromise.

We are not always going to agree. Actually, it’s much more likely that we will disagree. I recently shared some advice on how we can move forward together in these divisive times,  which you can listen to here. Here are my three tips on how to discover the things we share--or at least to have productive conversations--instead of ending up in heated arguments.

  • Tip #1: Suspend the reflex to label. When we disagree, we often ascribe certain things to people simply because they voted for a certain candidate, or because they are from a certain area of the country, or because they have a certain political view. Know that you are going to do it, catch yourself, and fight against it.

  • Tip #2: Be curious. I want you to be curious and ask yourself, “Who is this whole person?” Instead of narrowly labeling people, figure out the different parts that make up the whole. We’re all more than our labels. So be curious about about the person,  and try to figure out what they are all about.

  • Tip #3: Seek to understand, rather than to convince. Not everything is a game of right and wrong. Instead of trying to change someone, try to understand where they are coming from and why they hold their points of view.

See whether or not you can find a way to overcome divisions in your own life. See whether or not you can do this when you’re eating Thanksgiving dinner or even watching football. It’s not easy, but the only way we make progress is by choosing to engage differently.