Talk to Your Angry Uncle

Talk to Your Angry Uncle

Hot topics on holidays? This interactive New York Times essay has suggestions for you.

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 people skip family gatherings these days 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 Times author seeks gentle engagement, and set up a bot for you to interact with.   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!

Part of your prep should be framing your hopes realistically.  Forget trying to change him.  Commit insteaad to learning something new about his views or about him.  Maybe most important, commit to learning about yourself in the process.