LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — After what has felt like an especially divisive election season, should politics be on the table this Thanksgiving? Samaritan Counseling Center executive director Steven Schedler and licensed psychologist and certified Mindful Self-Compassion teacher Lesley Huff discuss how families can have amicable discussions around politics.
Schedler and Huff agree that individuals can decide for themselves whether or not to engage in conversations about politics, though they both encourage open communication when possible. They emphasize the importance of listening with the intention of trying to understand different perspectives.
“In order to be heard…we also really need to be willing to listen,” says Huff. “As that old adage goes, it’s like we’ve got two ears and one mouth, so we should probably be listening more.”
“Given everything that’s going on right now, at some point, we need to do some healing,” says Huff. She acknowledges that there are certain subjects that may not feel debatable, “but it’s important to recognize that if the goal is really to try to heal and actually allow people the space to grow, [people’s] defensiveness needs to go down,” she says.
Schedler advises people to prepare for potentially tense conversations in advance. Huff says this may involve doing some research into different perspectives, or it could mean setting personal boundaries such as limiting consumption of inhibition-lowering alcohol or only staying at a family gathering for a short time period. Huff also recommends reflecting on personal intentions before engaging in difficult conversations.
Schedler and Huff say that it is unlikely one conversation over Thanksgiving dinner could really change someone’s perspective, but those conversations may help people understand one another better, or they might plant seeds for future growth or opinion development.
They also note that while open, friendly conversation can be beneficial, there are times when it can be important to set boundaries, too.
More of ABC27’s discussion with Schedler and Huff can be seen in the video above.
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