Q: We had hoped that the election would put an end to the strained relationships with friends and family members who disagree with us politically. But many of the bad feelings are lingering. How do we get past this?
A: You might not respect your family or friend's opinions, but I think it's important to respect the fact that everyone has the right to an opinion.
If you are in a discussion that is heating up fast, don't just passive-aggressively change the subject. Instead, make it a conscious move by saying, "It's clear we won't be able to see eye to eye on this one, so let's agree to disagree and talk about something else."
If you already know you don't see eye to eye on a topic, it's OK to say upfront, "Let's make a no-politics rule for the next hour so we can just enjoy lunch together."
As emotionally charged as the election can leave you, it's important to think before you speak, write or post something. Sometimes a few deep breaths can do the trick, while other times, you might need to simply physically excuse yourself from a conversation at a dinner table until you can collect yourself.
MYKA MEIER, etiquette expert, founder of Beaumont Etiquette
A: I don't know if it's really necessary to keep feelings in check. I do, however, think that there are ways to effectively communicate them without erupting in conflict.
I urge examining what the goal of the conversation is. If you're still trying to change someone else's opinion about a political topic, you should have figured out by now that it isn't very likely to happen. A lot of the time, what makes these fights erupt is saying, "You shouldn't believe this" or "It's wrong that you believe that," which automatically causes the listener to put up defenses. And once that happens, it just brings conflict, and that leads to ruptured relationships.
CASEY GAMBONI, licensed therapist and faculty member at the Family Institute at Northwestern University