With election season in full swing, I’ve been getting more and more requests for advice about how to politely and respectfully divert charged or challenging conversations with friends or family.
So, I’ve put together this little SOS template to help you preserve relationships when you know there’s no hope of a productive, transformative dialogue, and you can’t or don’t want to just walk away.
Sounds like: (acknowledge their emotional experience)
…you are passionate about this.
…it’s been overwhelming and concerning.
…you are really hopeful that things will improve.
…you’ve been super motivated to learn all you can.
Offer well wishes: (keep it sincere and neutral)
I hope it resolves soon.
Here’s hoping things settle down quickly.
I’m sorry to hear that it’s been so challenging/upsetting.
Hopefully the worst is behind us.
Subject change: (to something light, fun or positive)
Hey, that reminds me, have you heard about that new movie …
Oh, I’ve been meaning to ask if you have a good recipe for…
On another note, I’m wondering what you think about this year’s team.
Random question … where’s the best place to get tacos?
It’s helpful to come up with some non-controversial, engaging topics in advance so you don’t have to generate them under duress. For example: sports, recipes, books, award nominees, restaurants, weather, a fond mutual memory, or an upcoming event.
Here’s how it might sound all put together:
Wow, sounds like you’ve been passionate about doing a lot of research about the issues. Hopefully you can get back to some light reading again in a few weeks! Speaking of reading, I could use a recommendation for a good mystery novel. What do you suggest?