How do I deal with close- minded relatives? When I spend time with certain family members, I can always anticipate a heated debate. How do I deal with this?

Dear Reader,

If it helps, I think that part of growing up is beginning to understand where your opinion differs from those around you.

I completely understand what it is like to spend time with family members who consistently bring up their differing opinions.

Often times, holiday parties or family gatherings can escalate into loud discussions about complicated subjects such as politics, religion and money. First of all, remember that your opinion matters. Do not let a loud voice convince you that it speaks the truth.

Often it is the calmer and collected person who speaks wisdom. It is okay to disagree with relatives, especially ones who yell in order to be heard.

Actually, contradicting one another is one of the great freedoms of humanity.

Photo by: William Wrobel

Photo by: William Wrobel

We are all individuals with our own perspectives, so hold true to your beliefs and don’t shy away from voicing your arguments.

Notice, however, that if you play into the discussion, you might be faced with counter-arguments targeted at converting you to different ideas.

For me, one of the best tactics for dealing with anybody who has a different opinion than me is to listen to them. Prompt them with questions. Dig in and force them to defend their case. If you truly disagree with their views, it is likely that your questions will lead them to a revelation about their own views.

Perhaps digging deeper into the reasons for their opinions will teach you something that either reinforces or negates your former beliefs.

If you have that one pesky relative who follows you around just to start up a debate and you aren’t interested, then steer the conversation elsewhere.

As a vegetarian in a household of omnivores, I can sometimes sense when a family member is just trying to push my buttons and so I will just tell them that I have my plate, and they have theirs. This works for most topics. You can end the battle before it has begun by refusing to contribute your differing thoughts.

You can also be direct by saying that you are not interested in having a debate. When it comes down to it, there is no avoiding conversations with people who hold different opinions.

The best way to approach these uncomfortable discussions is to question the opinions you disagree with and calmly share what knowledge you have on the topic.

If you find that there is a particular person who always starts the same fight, then tell them you are not interested in hashing out your differences.

Refusing to participate in a debate might provoke them to argue that they have won, but, if it means peace and quiet, let it be.

We will never agree with everyone around us, so just absorb all of the knowledge at your disposal and stand your ground when it comes to what you believe in.

Life is too short to live by what someone else says you should.

Good luck keeping the peace,

Arline

Arline Votruba can be contacted at avotruba@kscequinox.com