Holiday Resources

Check out some of our tips and conversations as you navigate time with friends and family during the holidays

Friends and Family Tip Sheet

Holiday family gatherings can pose a unique challenge in this politically charged climate. Why? Because family is known for breaking host and guest social norms.  Because family knows each other’s triggers and because family relations often require more of us. Emotional stakes tend to be higher, conversations are colored by history and it can feel easier to take the proverbial gloves off and fight dirty, unconstrained by the politeness we give others.

This tip sheet can help you use Living Room Conversations skills to practice loving and connecting with your family, even when you don’t like what they believe. 

Conversation Buffets

We’ve curated some of our favorite questions for you! Look at the menus below, read the conversation agreements together, and serve up some great conversation at your next gathering.

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How to avoid family drama when talking politics over Thanksgiving dinner

Are you worried about the dreaded politics topic being broached at Thanksgiving Dinner?

You’re not alone. We talk to folks all the time who find conversations with family can be the most difficult for them. This article features former Managing Partner and mediation expert Mary Gaylord’s tips for tackling tough topics without a food fight.

I think people come to the realization that they’re out of practice of listening to somebody else; listening to somebody who has a different point of view. We, kind of, set up in our culture this pro-con binary,” says Mary.

Relationships over Politics Conversation Guide

Is it possible to use Living Room Conversations with our families and close friends? It is ultimately challenging, because family are more likely to break ‘host and guest’ social norms. The emotional stakes are higher, conversations are colored by long, deeply personal histories and it can feel easier to ‘take the gloves off’ and fight dirty, unconstrained by the politeness usually offered acquaintances. How might we hold the tension of our differences while working to repair connection and not further deepen division within our circle of family and friends?
All sorts of people tell us they want to use the skills they practice in Living Room Conversations to help restore connection with friends and family.  So, let’s use a Living Room Conversation to talk about just that!  This Living Room Conversation will help us listen and learn about where we have different opinions, along with shared ideas about how to best navigate time with family & friends (who may not share our view of the world).

Podcasts, Videos, & Media

Common Ground Committee Podcast:
Executive Director Becca Kearl and her mother, Robbie Lawler, sat down to talk about the varied political dynamics and leanings in their own family heightened by the 2020 presidential election. Even though they ended up voting differently, they were able to keep the conversation open and understand each other.
Intergenerational Potluck
Living Room Conversations staff members Brialle, Becca, and Briscoe brought their dads to an intergenerational conversation using one of our conversation buffets listed above.
If you’re thinking of using one of our buffets, this is a great way to get a feel of what it might look like (just imagine a dinner table rather than a Zoom room!).
Healing family divisions from the trauma of 2020 starts with listening to people you disagree with, experts say

In this Milwaukee Sentinel article, Braille Ringer and Becca Kearl share their own experiences navigating difficult conversations with their families- whether it’s a conversation about race or politics. They both highlight how the Conversation Agreements can help you start and stay in difficult conversations.

Harvard Negotiation & Mediation Clinical Program
This episode of Thanks for Listening looks at politics around the Thanksgiving table—the start of a long month of family gatherings and meals to celebrate the holidays.
Hosts spotlight efforts to bridge the political divide in the U.S. through dialogue and collaborative processes, profiling the important and often courageous work of individuals and organizations who are helping citizens engage with one another on challenging topics.