Sure, if you’re with a group of close friends, chances are you’re all like-minded or at least respectful of each other’s viewpoints. But when it comes to family, work-related, or casual-acquaintance gatherings, the rules are different. Try not to be too serious when starting the conversation and have fun, here are some ideas for keeping peace pervasive over the holiday season.
If you find yourself within a group of folks you don’t know all that well, there are certain topics you should avoid. They are obvious, but a reminder is worthwhile. Rule of thumb, stay away from very personal and controversial subject matters. And, don’t try to be funny when discussing very personal topics. Here are three examples of how not to start a conversation.
1) Politics. Don’t discuss your president, your future leader, or foreign policy. Even if these are subjects in which you love to have a tête-à-tête, the setting has to be appropriate. Otherwise, it’s possible someone might find themselves covered in egg nog.
2) Religion. Feel free to mention that you have to leave because you have a sermon to attend early in the morning. But don’t start spewing feelings about your God, others’ God, or God’s lack of existence.
3) Reproductive and LGBT rights, Climate Change, and Health Care. These are extremely important topics that require addressing—but perhaps not at a holiday party (or with people you don’t know well.) The host may frown upon the discomfort or potential raucous.
“Do Not Ask” Questions
Although you may be tempted, find inner-strength to contain asking some of these examples of questions during your conversation:
-Something looks different. Did you lose weight?
-Did you ever get that promotion?
-What do you think about global warming?
-Do you think fracking is a good option?
-What’s your stance on vaccines?
-Has your daughter been baptized?
-How are the finances at the office?
If a topic comes up that you know will ignite conflict, don’t engage. You may feel passionate about the conversation and disagree, but what’s more important? Voicing your feelings amongst people whose minds won’t change, or worse, won’t listen to you respectfully?
Or is it more important to stay calm, keep to yourself and leave without a fight? Try and keep things light and enjoy what your talking about with the people you care for. It’s your call. But if you choose the latter and someone continues to egg you on, simply reply with one word—“Interesting.” This won’t put the person on the defensive, yet you are not agreeing or engaging. It’s a nice way to smile and basically say, “Please, back off.”
“Do” Conversations and Fun Starter Questions
Here are more productive ideas for having a lovely time with casual peers or family at a “festive” gathering. No boats need-a-rockin’. Keep the themes positive and upbeat. Bland is best.
By the way, it will be less tense if you include the younger set into conversations as well. Here are some innocuous ideas for questions to get the “calm and cool” party started:
-Did you see that moon the other night?
-If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?
-Of all the food here, what’s the one thing you would pick if you could only have one food all year?
– If you could have been responsible for the invention of a particular item, what would it be?
-If you could do only one thing all day, what would it be?
-Where’s the most beautiful place you’ve been?
-Where’s the one place you dream most of traveling to?
-If you could travel back or forward in time, what year would you want to check out?
-What’s a holiday that doesn’t exist that you’d like to create?
-If you could host a dinner party for 8 people, anyone, (dead or alive), who would you invite?
-What are some things you would do if you were invisible for one day?
Those are some fun, innocent ways to get a healthy conversation going for anyone of any age. Keeping the peace can be rewarding and allow joy to prevail.