Talk to Your Angry Uncle

If like millions of other Americans, you will eat turkey on the holidays with family members on a different location on the political spectrum than you, take a look at this interactive New York Times essay with suggestions for how to manage.

For an idea of how many people struggle with this, read the Comments suggestion! For an idea of how many people struggle with this, read the Comments section following the essay!   

Many commenters suggest avoidance, a response we recognize and respect in the Style Matters conflict style inventory.  Some don’t even go to family gatherings anymore because they’re too contentious.  Total avoidance is an extreme response I find hard to justify except for extreme situations.  

Others counsel diligent avoidance of certain topics, a wise response if the emotional maturity and skill required on at least one side for useful exchange are missing.

This author offers a series of practical suggestions for gentle engagement, set in the context of a bot that the reader interacts with, choosing recommended responses.   Readers point out that the angry uncle turns soft too easily in the essay, a fair point.  But the techniques are still worth knowing and exploring – you’ll use them with a partner or child or friend someday even if they aren’t right for quelling Uncle Bluster!

But even if your uncle never gets past red-faced windiness, you can’t lose if you set your sights realistically.  Forget trying to change him.  Commit to learning something new about his views or about him.  And choose to learn about yourself in the process.

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