A self-proclaimed “etiquette expert” shared her thoughts with ABC News on how to survive Thanksgiving conversation, offering tips on the proper holiday protocol.
“Remember that you can endure just about anything for one day, and that includes uncomfortable family settings,” Sharon Schweitzer of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide told ABC News. “Keep your head high and let any annoyances roll off your back.”
Schweitzer suggests surrounding yourself with easygoing guests to neutralize any unwanted negativity. These buffers can serve as a shield against those who would provoke you into an argument.
She broke down her system into five categories: Play it safe, Select seats carefully, Politics, Prying questions, and Religion.
For playing it safe, Schweitzer recommends sticking to “neutral” conversation topics like movies and sports. As for the seating arrangements, she urges hosts to be cognizant of family feuds, and avoid sitting people together who have issues with one another.
“Seat guests in conflict on opposite ends of the table, and place yourself near the center so that you can mediate the conversation if needed,” she said.
In the realm of politics she thinks it’s best to remember “there is a time and place for everything” and to avoid political discussion all together this year. It makes for a more peaceful atmosphere and will help keep things light.
With “prying questions” Schweitzer thinks people usually mean well when they inquire about someone life, but topics like relationships or having children can wait until after the holiday.
Finally for religion, Schweitzer puts faith in the same league as politics. Highly emotional and likely to cause tension. Her tip is to respect the different philosophies gathered around the table, and avoid prodding any sensitive matters that could lead to conflict.
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