By James Middlebrook

The holidays are a time for families to gather and enjoy company. As family gatherings approach,  I’m sure my table isn’t the only to discuss current events and politics. Our nation is divided, that’s evident by chatrooms, internet comments, and network news. But, are average citizens so polarized from one another in person as well? I believe we all have similar desires and aspirations for our nation. So, as we gather for the holidays, here are a few tips for discussing politics with family and friends in a civil manner; in order to get down to the issues we all care about.

1) DON’T YELL. I repeat DON’T YELL. The first step in talking about contentious topics is to remain calm and respectful. The moment you lose your cool, you lose credibility.

2) Listen. Honestly listen to his/her positions. There can’t be a robust, meaningful discussion without first understanding your opponent’s point of view.

3) Have positions backed by reason and facts. The best way to be convincing is to support argument and evidence. Your explanation should be backed by reason, ideology, and evidence. If you can’t satisfy this criteria, consider changing your position.

4) Understand that you may not change any minds. People are hard to persuade, especially if they feel attached to their beliefs. It’s crucial to understand that your sole goal shouldn’t be to change the other person’s mind. Rather, you should hope to enlighten him/her to understand your side of the argument.

5) Be willing to change your mind! Similar to the previous tip, it’s important for you to remain open to learning and changing your position based on sound reasoning and fact. You should be malleable in your positions with the aim of improving. We all want what’s best for our nation, don’t be afraid to change your idea of what that is.

6) Know when to drop it. If you break rule #1, it’s probably a good sign to drop the conversation. Discussing tough issues is important, but if the conversation isn’t going anywhere and there are no longer any points to make, it’s time to move on. There is no use beating a dead horse.

It’s okay to talk politics with your friends and family! Really. America was founded on disagreement and compromise. In a democracy, it’s important to be able to have civil discourse amongst citizens. In a government of the people, by the people, and for the people it’s vital for citizens to engage with one another. So, my last bit of advice is to enjoy the time with your family and friends. Holidays are a time to reflect on the love and care you have in your life. But, if all fails, just yell about football. GO PACKERS!