This holiday season as families gather, the list of potentially heated dinnertime conversation topics is a long one. Many Thanksgiving celebrants might choose to ignore these issues altogether in the name of keeping the peace. For those looking for productive conversation, North Carolina public speaker and author David Campt has some practical suggestions.
Transforming conflict over things like politics and other contentious issues into meaningful dialogues means moving away from the idea of winning an argument and focusing instead on another person's views and how their own personal experiences shaped them. White Ally Toolkit founder and The Dialogue Company principal David Campt says this, along with finding common areas of agreement creates a stronger sense of connection. But he says, before getting there, you have to be ready to engage.
"What you want to do is to do something to actively relax yourself when you know you're about to have a tense conversation," says Campt. "We know these things are coming, but we don't prepare."
Campt says cultivating a relaxation ritual beforehand might include deep breathing, progressive body relaxation, closing your eyes and imagining a favorite location, real or imagined. Other keys to good dialogue: be humble, don't be afraid to share your nervousness or your sincere hopes for a better conversation.