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Dreading the Thanksgiving politics talk? Here's how to survive it

Thanksgiving is nearly here. Who's excited to talk politics with their family?
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Thanksgiving is nearly here but in light of recent events, not everybody is looking forward to it.

Arguably the most polarizing election campaign in recent history has not only divided the country, but also families. And the annual Thanksgiving get-together is now a fraught prospect for those dreading the moment table talk turns to politics.

According to polling company PRRI, 33 percent of Donald Trump supporters say they have Hillary Clinton supporters in their immediate family. While 30 percent of Clinton supporters say there will be Trump fans at their dinner table.

GoMN spoke with Lesa Koski, an attorney and mediator with Mediation Specialists LLC in the Twin Cities, who says she has had several conversations with friends and family about the election results.

"Sadly, this is an issue," she said, telling us she's seen families post hurtful comments to each other over social media since the election – in some cases vowing not to attend Thanksgiving at all.

Koski says Thanksgiving dinner is a different situation than the divorce mediation she specializes in because "there are no ground rules."

"Although there may be one party willing to speak respectfully and listen, it does not mean the other party will."

Nonetheless, here are a few tips for how you can make it through turkey dinner.

Steer clear of politics

The easiest way is to avoid politics talk altogether, which Koski says might be required if "you do not have a willing, respectful participant" in the conversation.

This will probably require some sort of collective agreement for the good of the family to start with.

Some people have more innovative solutions, such as this guy on Reddit who posted he's going with his (very pro-Trump) parents to Connecticut for Thanksgiving to visit his (very anti-Trump) cousins. So he's bringing an air horn "for when they begin arguing about the election at dinner."

Listen, be respectful, and cool off

"It is very important that we all respect each other's opinions and listen," Koski says. Even if you and your family don't see eye-to-eye on something, it doesn't mean what they're saying isn't valid.

If your parents/grandparents have more traditional views on something, don't write them off as outdated fuddy-duddies. If your children/grandchildren have a take that differs from yours, don't denounce them as naive.

If you come to an impasse in the debate, where neither side is going to budge, call it a day and have another drink.

DNAInfo in Chicago spoke to local social worker Steve Colley, who said that if passions run really high and you feel unable to deal with it, then take a breather.

"Tell everyone, 'This is a little too intense for me so I'm going to go in the other room and cool off,'" he said.

Pivot like a politician

Hey, both candidates pivoted plenty during the campaign. Why can't we during Thanksgiving dinner?

Even if you're avoiding the subject, beware: politics is the kind of thing that can enter a conversation from anywhere. One minute you're talking about the Vikings' Thanksgiving game, then next thing you know you're onto the subject of national anthem protests.

The Los Angeles Times says be prepared to change the conversation to something non-political. Read up before dinner so you're prepared for some apolitical stories to discuss.

Ask them what they're watching on TV at the moment and what their favorite recent film or book is (though if they bring up The Art of the Deal or Hard Choices, then get out of there).

Embrace the conversation

One of the things to come out of the election has been a level of discourse where people on different sides of the political spectrum shout their views – without listening to the other side.

To that end (and bearing in mind the tips for civil conversation above), get involved in the debate and listen as much as you talk. It's vital for the country as a whole that people see things from perspectives other than their own.

You may not agree with what is being said, and in some cases you'll vehemently oppose it. But at the very least you might understand where your relative/friend is coming from.

In some cases they may change your mind, and at the same time give you the chance to change their's (provided they approach the conversation in the same way.)

One last thing

Above all, just remember that it's Thanksgiving, and be thankful that you're with people you love even if you disagree with everything they stand for.

And if all else fails, stuff your face with turkey.

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