Some tips on how to navigate politically charged conversations.

By Jennifer Calfas
October 26, 2017

It’s an issue that has plagued family holiday celebrations for decades, but lately it’s been particularly pronounced.

Politics, and talking about the current state of politics, have seemingly taken hold of everyday life for Americans—and the often controversial subject is more difficult than ever to avoid at holiday gatherings. But, according to etiquette experts, political conversations should stay far away from the dinner table.

Certainly there is room for productive dialogue between family members at Thanksgiving dinner—though that may be hard to achieve. Despite being blood relatives, there are a range of factors that can cause problems, including generational divides, varying levels of education, and personal political opinions. And these days, that can be dangerous waters to navigate at a peaceful family dinner or event.

So what can you do? Real Simple spoke to three etiquette experts who gave their best advice and tips to prepare for the upcoming holiday season.

“Tradition would dictate you don’t speak about politics at the table,” said Elaine Swann, an etiquette expert who is the CEO of her own lifestyle and coaching company. “But because of our modern society today and the current political climate that is super prevalent in our everyday lives—whether it’s a policy or a law that is affecting many of our lives—stifling guests or family members from having a conversation at all would be difficult.”

Here’s what you need to know about how to navigate these conversations if they happen at your upcoming holiday get-together.

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