How to Talk About Sticky Topics with Your Family

This year has given almost everyone the prime time to address social and political issues with your family. It's a big thing to have a serious political conversation with those closest to you just so you can sort of get an idea of their stances, as long as they're comfortable sharing that with you, and vice-versa. A lot of this talks tend to be avoided during family events or even in the family home in general. It's 100% okay to avoid the confrontation that can come along when addressing these topics as it can cause a lot of anxiety and negative feelings if the conversation turns ugly, but I have gotten into the habit of telling myself that these talks are experiences that should occur in any relationship at least once.

If you go into a conversation fired up and ready to argue, nothing good will ever come out of it. If you're the one starting the conversation, be ready to listen, and listen well.  Listening is especially important when it comes to understanding. If you don't understand a thought that they've been talking about, don't immediately jump of them for lack of context. You don't want the other person thinking you're bringing up these topics just to attack them. Ask them questions and let them go into detail with their answers and responses. If you put in the work to show genuine curiosity and interest into what they believe, they'l be more willing to give you the same reaction back.

Find something in common! This will work whether they have the same ideas as you or opposing ideas. Finding a common ground can help you create an even better chance at keeping the conversation civil if disagreement becomes too apparent. It's good to also remember that disagreeing on something is okay, it's unrealistic to expect that the family member you're speaking to will agree with every single one of your values. It's also important to understand that it's okay to feel anger when there's seemingly no common ground, but you have to push that anger aside and turn it into passion for your ideas and values.

I have personally experienced a lot of tough-topic discussions since the pandemic began and some of them haven't ended well, and I'm sure a lot of you have as well. Sometimes all you can do is be patient, even if the other side isn't. Be the bigger person in this situation, be understanding while also putting your foot down on what you believe is right.