Tis the Season to Watch Your Tongue

By Jolyn Johnston-Myers
December 12, 2016

Part of the joy of the holiday season is being together with family and friends. However, the joy can quickly fade if a disagreement spirals out of control.   

K-State Research and Extension family systems specialist Charlotte Shoup-Olsen says the decision on whether or not to enter into a conversation that has the potential to turn into an argument depends on your past experience with that person.       

“You determine how much you really want to get into it and how much you want to protect the relationship,” Shoup-Olsen said. “If you really want to protect the relationship and you know it is a very tough issue to talk together about, perhaps you do need to avoid it.”

Sometimes a conversation is unavoidable or accidental. When a conversation begins to spiral out of control, Shoup-Olsen says to remember that the only person you can control is yourself.

“So if the other person, they go places you don’t like, how can you pause and think about what should happen next?” she said. “Do you want to keep it spinning out of control, regret it later, or have relationship repair to do, or do you want to stop and try to handle it in a way that will not get to that point?”

Having a diversity of ideas on politics, religion and other issues is vital to our culture and the ideals of democracy. Shoup-Olsen says knowing the right time, place and ramifications of engaging in that conversation can prevent a holiday gathering from being memorable for all the wrong reasons.