Politics. Family drama. Taylor Swift’s boyfriend. It’s the most wonderful time of the year for awkward — and potientially disastrous — conversations. We’ve all been there. Standing in a group of people, looking nice in our holiday best, politely nodding while eyeing the dessert table. Then someone says something completely ridiculous and the next thing you know you’re never talking to cousin Becky again. But maybe it doesn’t have to be that way. “In these situations, it’s best to remember that you’re not going to change someone’s way of thinking. They have their truth and you have your truth,” said therapist Lori Gordon-Michaeli, LCSW. “If you just came to have a nice time, agree in your head to disagree and move on.” Read: Making the Holidays a Bit Merrier >> Gordon-Michaeli said it’s a good idea to prepare yourself mentally before going to the party and bring a coat of armor (not literally). “I imagine myself putting on an “Iron Man” suit that covers all my buttons so no one can push them,” she said. “When I get to the event, before I walk through the door, I notice my suit is on and I reaffirm that I can choose not to interact with conversations that I know won’t go well.” To help everything go well during your gatherings, here are more of Gordon-Michaeli’s tips, tricks and things to say when confronted with hot button issues during the holidays and year-round. When someone brings up … PoliticsLuckily we live in a democracy so we can all vote for someone we feel will do the best job. We don’t necessarily have to agree on everything — that’s why it’s a democracy. If the other person you’re talking to is very headstrong, it’s best to nod so they know you hear them — but don’t get into it with them — your opinion won’t be heard. Try saying, “Everyone’s entitled to their opinion and we can agree to disagree. That’s democracy.”LGBTQ+ topicsIf Aunt Bertha can’t quite wrap her head around gender identity and sexual orientation, you can shut her down with a simple sentence. Say, “We’re a diverse society and we should all feel safe enough to live our individual truth.”Conflict in the familyAs my 92-year-old aunt loves to say, “Show up, shut up and wear beige.” This is my aunt’s favorite advice to give, and it works for all seasons and occasions. Basically, just blend in and keep your opinions out of the conversation and you most likely won’t get dragged into it.WeightIf someone is pressuring you to eat or not to eat or making you feel uncomfortable about your body, it’s perfectly fine to tell them to mind their own business. If it’s happened before, say with a family member, it may be helpful to ask another family member to be a buffer. Speak with them before the event so they can run interference. Usually this will help. Read: Thanksgiving Will Always Be Difficult For Me. Here’s How I Cope.

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