Talking politics: A Thanksgiving guide to divisive conversations | Debra Mashek

Talking politics: A Thanksgiving guide to divisive conversations | Debra Mashek


Families are going to be gathering around
tables. Those families there’s no guarantee that
they’re all going to be thinking the same thing or believing the same thing and there
are basically three choices here. Either you charge right into the political
discussions and it blows up because you’re not necessarily prioritizing the relational
aspects of it. Number two is you could totally avoid politics
even though it’s on everybody’s mind. Everyone is tiptoeing around the eggshells. Instead we’re going to talk about what a
beautiful color the flowers are which also misses the opportunity to be known and to
really know with any depth or nuance the other people around the table. The third option is to actually talk about
the politics but to do it in a way that preferences understanding. So, seek first to understand and then to be
understood. That isn’t trying to reach agreement. You’re not trying to change anyone’s position. You’re just trying to understand where they’re
coming from. And the best tools for doing this are questions. Things like how do you see it. Can you help me understand how you came to
that perspective or hmmm, that’s an angle I haven’t thought about before. I’m wondering if you can unpack that for
me a little bit and tell me more about what’s there. Asking questions like I’m wondering is there
an experience that you’ve had that really convinced you about having this position. If you just keep asking questions chances
are you’re going to learn something about the people sitting on the other side of the
table – your parents, your siblings, your aunts, your uncles, the stranger somebody
invited over to dinner. And perhaps your mind will be opened a little
bit. You’ll have some thoughts you haven’t
had before. To me that’s the Thanksgiving blessing. So, last year we at Heterodox Academy created
this little postcard that we went out to people in our community and there was just a blessing
at the bottom. May your Thanksgiving table be graced with
intellectual humility and curiosity.