It's easy to get sucked in to an argument at family gatherings and holiday parties. Here are some ideas for preventing A House Divided effect.
PREPARE for conflict by relaxing. It is easier to mentally prepare to be in a cheerful and peaceful frame of mind before arriving at an event than try to recover when someone pushes your buttons. Just recognizing that your well-being and positive relationships are more important than trying to convert someone to your views at a party can help you stay centered. People prepare in different ways like meditating, deep breathing, muscle relaxation, and so forth.
LISTEN to button pushers. It seems inevitable that any large group will have someone apt at pushing buttons. They may be on the extreme left or right in politics, religion, or both. Perhaps they are really a moderate who enjoys conflict. Consider listening without debating. You know you probably can't win a debate in a festive situation. You might say something like, "it's good to hear your perspective" as you move on to another conversation.
DISTRACTION works with infants and boors (at least some of the time). When an infant grabs for something that might break, you have a choice. If you grab it back they might create a loud crying scene drawing attention from anyone within 60 feet. On the other hand, dangling another object within their reach often serves to shift their attention long enough to remove the fragile item without a fuss. Adults can be distracted too, by subtle shifts in conversation. Have a few ideas ready and soon they will be your go to "verbal toys" like those prepared parents carry in their bags. For those oafs who are not so easily distracted, a more direct, "lets discuss that point when we have more time" might work.
ESCAPE when your emotional temperature rises. Awareness of rising conflict can be a good time to excuse yourself for a break. Getting a snack, excusing yourself to say something to a friend, and a trip to the restroom are ways to regroup and avoid entrapment.
A House Divided effect is a commonplace in human history. People are divided about many things but moral matters involving religion and politics are at the top of the list of conflicting topics. There are times to engage in meaningful conversation about hot topic issues. But a party or family gathering is not the time or place. Resolving conflicts requires focused attention and skilled leadership.
Learn more about A House Divided: Sexuality, Morality, and Christian Cultures
available from the publisher PICKWICK and other stores e.g., AMAZON GOOGLE
Connect on twitter @GeoffWSutton
Facebook Geoff W Sutton