Love it or hate it, there’s no getting away from politics today.
And it could be that way for the next few weeks, which happens to coincide with Christmas.
A quick scroll through social media highlights how divided opinions are, so with upcoming family time and boozy trips to the pub, here’s some tips on keeping it civil at Christmas – even when you don’t agree with the opinions of the people around you.
“Try not to see debate as an attack on you. Just know everyone is entitled to their own opinion,” says Lucy Beresford, a psychotherapist who specialises in relationships.
Turkey and a side of… politics?
You can picture the scene now: you’re sat around the dinner table with your family, tucking into your Christmas dinner when granddad brings up the election, again.
Before getting stuck into yet another analysis of where it went right or wrong – depending on your view – Lucy tells Radio 1 Newsbeat, you should take into account how long you’ll be in their company.
“If it’s just for the meal then maybe engage with them but start with, ‘It’s interesting and people don’t always agree but I respect your position’.
“If you’re going to be with them for a long time, which is often the case at Christmas, I would be more careful with what you say.
“Sometimes you won’t be able to change someone’s mind and it’s better to just celebrate the bonds you have, instead of magnifying the differences.”
So if you do decide to boycott political chat, what’s the best way of politely shutting it down without hurting someone’s feelings?
“You have to be careful. Some phrases sound like you’re trying to control the conversation, which will seem antagonistic. It’s about having some sentences up your sleeve like ‘I feel very differently about this to you, but it doesn’t mean I like you or love you any less and I hope you can agree on that.”
‘Take care around alcohol’
There’s a good chance you’ll be spending time in your local pub with mates over the next few weeks.
Lucy suggests keeping an eye on your booze intake “because it can lower your guard and you might say something you’ll regret”.
But if your mates are egging you on and a politics chat is inevitable, then she advises either getting it over with at the start of the night or suggesting it might be best for the the topic to be “off limits until you’ve sobered up tomorrow”.
It’s possible that over the years, your old mates might have developed different political views to you.
But before you start thinking that just because you voted differently it means you have nothing in common any more, Lucy says to remember the important thing is not to take political debate personally.
She acknowledges it’s hard because “our opinions make us who we are”, but she says “don’t have the attitude that you know it all”.
How to keep your cool online
And then there’s social media. If your Facebook, Twitter or Instagram is anything like ours, it’s swamped with political chat right now and not all of that is pleasant.
Lucy suggests you “try not to talk politics on social media”.
“For self-care reasons, I’d suggest people spend less time on social media and even switch it off entirely. Don’t antagonise a situation or get yourself any more het up”.
Lucy advises people come offline on big political days when “emotions are high”.
“Anytime there is drama, step away from social networks, otherwise you’ll work yourself up. Remember it’s not real, it’s artificial.”
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