Changing the Subject When Things Get Tense from 6 Ways to Change the Subject When Things Get Tense at Thanksgiving Dinner (Slideshow)
6 Ways to Change the Subject When Things Get Tense at Thanksgiving Dinner (Slideshow)
Changing the Subject When Things Get Tense
No matter what tense topics come up on Thanksgiving, try out one or more of these seven techniques to get back to something everyone can talk about without hurling insults or hurting feelings. Trust us, it’ll make your holiday much happier.
Bring an Older Topic of Conversation Back
Think of a topic from earlier in the evening and act as though you just thought of something that you meant to say. “You know what I just thought of from earlier? How you so frequently see dog shows but don’t often see cat shows.” This mild interjection will be your best friend. It feels less jarring because it relates to something you’ve already discussed, so it’s a natural way to divert attention.
Give a Compliment
Few people fail to fall to flattery. So pinpoint your conversation partner’s new sweater, haircut, or a unique piece of jewelry, praise it, and ask a related question: “Wait, I just noticed your beautiful new bracelet. Is that real jade?” Maybe they'll have a related anecdote about where they got it or who gave it to them. And even if they don’t, your compliment may have buttered them up enough that everyone will be in merrier spirits.
Pull Someone Else Into the Discussion
Unless the entire room is in an all-out political battle royale, turn your one-on-one conversation into a group chat. Not only will adding a new person to the discussion give it a fresh dynamic, but it’s a path to a 100-percent reset. Turn around, find another person, and ask him or her a conversation-starting question such as, “Hey Aunt Diana, how was your trip to Spain?"
Take a Keyword and Steer the Conversation in a Different Direction
This classic bridging technique is something frequently used in political debates, but it can work in everyday conversation as well. If, for instance, someone is discussing the recent anti-Trump protests in Portland and things start to get heated, bring up something tangentially related. “Portland… you know I hear they have some incredible doughnuts,” you can say. And soon you’ll be discussing a much sweeter topic.
Talk About the Food
The great thing about Thanksgiving (and holiday celebrations in general) is that they center around eating. If you happen to be in a tense conversation during drinks, appetizers, or even dinner itself, take a big bite and act as though the same stuffing your mom makes every year is especially good this year. Exclaim something along the lines of, “Oh my gosh! I finally just tried the sweet potatoes. I wonder what that spice is…” It’s hard to be mad when you’re stuffing your face.
If All Else Fails, Express Your Discomfort
If some of your more subtle approaches to politely changing the topic of conversation fail, simply state (kindly) that you feel as though the table should discuss something else. Try saying something to the effect of, “I feel like this conversation is not going to end well. Let’s agree to disagree and discuss something else.”