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How To Handle Political Differences At The Dinner Table

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THANKSGIVING LOVE
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Growing up in Montreal, Quebec during the rise of a separatist political party in the 1970s gave me a front row seat to how families can be divided because of political differences. Every Sunday, after church, this division played out in my living room.

My military father believed in Canada's union. After lunch, my mother's two siblings and their families would all congregate at our house. Both of their families believed that Quebec should separate and become an independent country.

My father would sarcastically tell them that it was their right to believe it because men like him had risked their lives to give them that freedom. You can just imagine the heated arguments that ensued.

Personally, I found it exciting to listen in on these grownup debates. To this day, I'm a huge political junkie. (Just ask my non-political family as I was glued to all things political for the last 2 years.)

It was not uncommon to hear anecdotal stories of French-Canadian workers who had to learn English for their English boss. Misinformation got traded around and there were feelings of unfairness, suspicion, anger and division.

The separatist movement continue to rewrite school history books to discredit and malign the English. In fact, you would think aboriginals didn't even exist as everything revolves around the French white man.

My federalist, bilingual father would argue to convince my disenfranchised French uncles that they had benefited greatly from being in a strong, united Canada. In the end, they were the original Brexit that never happened.

Despite our faulty history books, our young adults have the internet and understand how globalization increases everyone's riches. Even when our white haired separatists continue to grumble, our majority doesn't want to revisit that divisive rhetoric.

That minority movement will never completely go away. But in these last 40 years, we have managed to heal this division. We are two nations who have learned to tolerate our differences.

Because of this, I truly believe that this loud American hiccough will eventually subside and people will put relationships before politics once again. After all, respect and human rights are part of the current American value system.

Getting through Thanksgiving
Eventually, this will be in the past. That being said, this last American campaign is something that broke all the old models of disagreement and there is more pain than I saw in my youth.

There is a lot of healing and forgiving that will need to happen. How do you get through this Thanksgiving if someone at the table is gloating while the other is afraid?

When I look at my own family, we still remain politically the same for the most part. But I want to give some advice that we figured out.

  1. Politics must be off the table at family celebrations. Make the conversation about vacations you took, remembering that time your daughter cut the dog's hair and talk about aunt Mable who smelled like cinnamon all the time.
  2. Without talking about it, remind yourself that you were lucky to have a choice. Too many countries in the world do not give the freedom to choose and America is one of the founding democracies that other countries use as their model. That is a proud history.
  3. Forgive the other person for not having the time and the resources to evaluate, unbiased and without fear, what you saw in your candidate. The country was swimming in misinformation to the point where people simply could not process it all effectively. They made decision on only partial information. (Most people had children to pick up from daycare and mortgages to pay. They didn't have time for more than small bits.)
  4. Having done crisis intervention and grief counseling over the years, I truly understand how life can turn on a dime. I encourage you to ask yourself what is the last thing you want to remember as an exchange with this person should some tragedy happen. Make a point that, over Thanksgiving, you will find a moment of grace and connection.

Thanksgiving is about grace. It's about being grateful. Those are impossible when we are angry or sad.

Letting go is the first key to moving forward.
  • After the house burns down we need to look for souvenirs.
  • After the funeral we need to find meaning again.
  • Now that it is after the election, it is time to look for what you have in common with them.
  • Know that this too shall pass: because, despite the fact that they really are driving you crazy right now, you really truly love them.

Choose resilience by forgiving and seeing beauty in the mess. Be grateful and thankful for the little things and nurture those into big things to be grateful for. Your happiness and relationships are counting on it.

Wishing my American family and friends a very Happy and Loving Thanksgiving.

If you haven't gotten it yet, check out my 4 step script on asking for what you want confidently and respectfully. I has saved relationships! Click here

The most successful leaders are not infallible when faced with someone who "drives them crazy!" Monique's strategies to empower others to stand up and take control of their personal and professional lives are appreciated by all who meet her. As a Speaker, Facilitator and Consultant helping to reduce conflict and increase collaboration, Monique Caissie draws from 30 years of crisis intervention work to help others increase their confidence to feel more heard, respected and happier. In her quest to better manage the difficult people in her life, she has studied human relations, spiritual texts, psychology and 12 step groups. Check out her website at http://moniquecaissie.com/

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