Thanksgiving Conversation Survival Guide Post-Election

Posted in News Release

WASHINGTON (Nov. 21, 2016) — Preparing dinner for a house packed with hungry family members on Thanksgiving Day can be stressful enough, but pepper it with conversation about politics and the 2016 election earlier this month, and the day could spoil easily.

Setting a few ground rules for yourself might save the day, says Georgetown University School of Medicine clinical psychologist Mary Ann Dutton, PhD.

“The biggest advantage for most people is that they already know how they’ll respond to an opposing viewpoint. With days left before Thanksgiving, why not take the time now to think about some strategies for avoiding conflict,” says Dutton.

Dutton offers these tips:

  • Avoid alcohol and substances that reduce ability to think clearly and to control anger
  • Don’t sit close to those who might challenge your opinions
  • Remind yourself and others of areas of common ground
  • Change the topic (“What I’d really like to hear about is…”)
  • Suggest talking at a later time
  • Avoid disrespectful behavior and abusive language
  • If you feel the conversation is going south, politely excuse yourself from the table

One final reminder from Dutton: “Remember that you can’t resolve years’ worth of family conflict over the dinner table.”

About Georgetown University Medical Center
Georgetown University Medical Center (GUMC) is an internationally recognized academic medical center with a three-part mission of research, teaching and patient care (through MedStar Health). GUMC’s mission is carried out with a strong emphasis on public service and a dedication to the Catholic, Jesuit principle of cura personalis — or “care of the whole person.” The Medical Center includes the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing & Health Studies, both nationally ranked; Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute; and the Biomedical Graduate Research Organization, which accounts for the majority of externally funded research at GUMC including a Clinical and Translational Science Award from the National Institutes of Health. Connect with GUMC on Facebook (new window) (, Twitter (new window) (@gumedcenter) and Instagram (new window) (@gumedcenter).