How to Navigate Holiday Conversations

by The Opportunity Agenda

The holidays can be a wonderful time of reflection and enjoyment — but they can also be a time of stress, particularly if it means gathering with family who may share differing (if not divisive) opinions over current social and political issues. Particularly this season, with the ongoing horrors in Palestine and Israel unfolding before our eyes and the deeply complicated and emotional perspectives associated — not to mention tense domestic politics ahead of what is sure to be a tumultuous campaign year — forthcoming holiday gatherings could be stirring anxiety for many of us.  

The good news is, there are ways to navigate this. By taking a step back and starting conversations with shared values, we can find points of connection that move us forward together or, at the very least, help us accept opposing perspectives with an underlying acknowledgment of core values. 

Research shows that if we present only a litany of facts and rhetoric, we run a high risk of losing people — either by detailing specific policies that aren’t familiar, leading others to tune out, or by presenting information that conflicts with their core beliefs, which can lead to digging in heels and disregarding facts, no matter how many you rattle off 

By framing complicated issues in terms of shared values, stories, and metaphors, we can build understanding and support for the issues we care about, creating a personal connection for our loved ones to our work and advocacy. 

Human Dignity is one theme that can unite diverse audiences while building bridges across a range of social justice issues including racial justice, immigration, LGBTQ+ rights, criminal justice, economic justice, education, and other spheres where opportunity – or even basic human rights – are at risk.  

There are many other themes and values that provide a foundation for the work we all do. We encourage you to check out the messaging resources below, which offer inroads on some of the most difficult — yet important — topics that arise in conversations today.  

Messaging Advice

For more messaging tips and advice, check out Vision, Values, and Voice: A Communications Toolkit.

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