UTAH (ABC4) — Thanksgiving is a time of giving and community, but it isn’t a time about someone’s weight gain or single status. 

Keep topics neutral, like the weather, sports, or even about the food, but most importantly, just keep things positive.

Listen without Arguing

Don’t agree with something a family member or friend says? Rather than go right on the defensive, try to make an effort to really listen to the person and validate their opinions, said psychiatrist Doctor Travis Mickelson Medical Director of Mental Health and Intermountain Healthcare.

These argumentative topics could be about conspiracy theories, religion, politics, financial situations, or even someone’s romantic life. 

“I can disagree without being disagreeable,” Mickelson said. “I think, as a society, we have lost that practice.” 

Avoid Talking about your Child’s Accomplishments

This might surprise some readers and may seem counterintuitive to the holidays because Thanksgiving is a time for celebration. Of course, there are some accomplishments that make sense to discuss. For instance, you should discuss your son’s achievement of getting into a school he’s worked hard to get into or your daughter’s new job, but it’s another thing entirely if all you’re talking about is your child’s straight A’s or scholarship. The key takeaway is to share without being boastful. 

Forget About Someone’s Lack of Accomplishments 

In the same vein, don’t remind someone why they haven’t done more with their life/love/job/fill in the blank. That person may be working on themselves in another way or are slower at reaching their goals than others, and the negative comments could hinder their potential and possibly take them longer to achieve their dreams. 

Set Appropriate Boundaries

Sometimes conversations can take an uncomfortable turn, and maybe listening without arguing isn’t in the cards. That’s okay, Mickelson said.

“It’s okay for me to say, ‘I don’t want to continue to have this conversation. I hear what you’re saying. I can tell that you’re really fired up or really upset about this. I’m not really comfortable having this conversation. Could we change the topic?’” Mickelson said.

Make an Excuse to Escape

If setting boundaries doesn’t work, Mickelson suggested making an excuse to escape. Mickelson said he often uses the phone to leave a conversation, stating that he needs to make a phone call. “It’s okay to make up some kind of excuse.”

The holidays only come once a year. What’s one day without the tension-inducing topics anyway?