that relative

Last month, we talked about how to have productive conversations with “That Relative” at family gatherings. You know, the one who picks fights about politics and ruins the holidays for everyone?

But if you’re passionate about politics, you might be the one that family members dread seeing at the annual get together. Without even knowing it, you could be alienating your friends and loved ones.

During the holidays, the goal should be to foster deeper relationships and have meaningful conversations about policy. But antagonizing family members and starting fights will make you a less effective advocate for freedom.

Here’s six signs you might be “That Relative” at your family holiday gatherings:


You’re Harassing Relatives

Harassing someone will never change their mind. Turning every situation into an opportunity to make a snide comment or underhanded aside about the person’s opinions, favorite politicians or political parties only damages relationships.

Instead of hounding someone, be patient and wait for the right moment to bring politics up. Antagonizing them won’t make you any more persuasive.


You’re Being Intentionally Offensive

Political correctness is a big problem in today’s culture, but so is being intentionally offensive. Before you open your mouth, think about how your comment will be perceived by the other person. There are lots of terms used by talking heads, talk show hosts and pundits in hyper-partisan circles that will be abrasive or even offensive to someone who disagrees with you.

When you’re talking to someone with a different worldview, be mindful of whether the language you’re using will inflame the situation or foster civil discussion.


Politics Is All You Talk About

There are countless other topics besides politics to talk about with your friends and family. If politics never come up during the evening but you spend the time getting to know that nephew or aunt you don’t normally get to see, that’s OK. Developing deeper relationships will allow you to have discussions about freedom with them later on.


You’re Making Assumptions About the Other Person’s Worldview

Don’t assume that just because someone supports one policy or politician they support others as well. Instead of demanding they defend a position or lawmaker, take the time to find out what your family member actually believes. Listen to them and learn what they think instead of making assumptions. People will often surprise you.


You’re Arguing Instead of Discussing

In an argument, the goal is to beat the other person. In a discussion, the goal is a thoughtful conversation where all viewpoints are considered. You may be able to beat that cousin in an argument, but it’s unlikely you’ll change his mind.


You’re Not Agreeing to Disagree

At the end of the day, your relationship with that friend or family member should be the most important thing. If the conversation starts getting heated or you find the conversation is going in circles, be willing to move on and agree to disagree.

It’s rare that you can change hearts and minds with just one conversation. You’ll have much better success if you can preserve the relationship and have a series of discussions over the next few months.

Looking for more tips on how to keep politics from ruining Christmas at your house? Check out these other blog posts:

“Headed Home for the Holidays? Here’s Five Ways to Keep Policy Discussions With ‘That Relative’ Civil and Productive”

Five Ways You’re Frightening Your Friends When Sharing Freedom

Six Principles of Interpersonal Persuasive Messaging

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