Friends, family, clients and colleagues,
Dick Cheney’s daughters are not getting along. Liz Cheney happens to be running for Senator of Wyoming, a very conservative state, and has been asked her views on many issues, including gay marriage. She has gone on record to say, “I am not pro-gay marriage.” Inconveniently, her sister Mary Cheney is a recently married lesbian. Thanksgiving 2013 may go down as one of the more awkward the Cheney family will celebrate.
Many families live by a general rule to avoid conversations about politics or religion, but what do you do when the antithesis of your politics and your religion are sitting across the table from you and you’re related to them? Let’s face it—you won’t be changing either person’s mind in one day, so it’s best to provide an environment that allows the least amount of friction possible. Put your tank treads on! Here are some tips on how to avoid a full-scale battle.
The Demilitarized Zone: Have your holiday celebration in the neutral territory of a relative who doesn’t take sides. This is imperative, so neither party feels like they’re at the social mercy of the other.
The Cavalry: Inviting more friends and relatives is always a great way to diffuse the tension because it offers opportunities to speak with any number of people about subjects unrelated to the topic of turbulence.
The Mess Tent: If possible, avoid having dinner at the dining room table and make it a buffet. This makes it easier for each person to sit and speak with whomever they choose, avoiding tension and providing a route of escape for either party. The pink elephant in the room won’t be sitting at the dinner table with the fam.
A Dry Camp: Alcohol is the quickest route to conflict, so avoid serving all alcohol if possible, but if that’s not an option, stick with beer and wine. Try and control the servings during meals and have lots of other alternatives to alcohol available.
The Nuclear Option: If you expect an unavoidable battle, keep the get-together short and sweet. Three hours should cover enough catching up and a meal to satisfy holiday obligations and keep the peace.
Keep in mind that these are simply ways to keep the peace when a social gathering is concerned. I will always recommend that the individuals in conflict should try and work out their differences. Simply avoiding making peace with someone you care about will only cause stress and prevent the deeper connection that they both deserve.