Pass the stuffing not the uncomfortable conversation this Thanksgiving

Nov 23, 2022, 3:48 PM | Updated: 3:51 pm
Thanksgiving dinner with all the sides. (Stock photo)...
Thanksgiving dinner with all the sides. (Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

SALT LAKE CITY — Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate what you are grateful for with loved ones, as well as a time to bust out your favorite pair of stretchy pants. But this doesn’t come without its fair share of awkward conversations while passing the cranberry sauce. 

These come in many forms. Anything from the bold and uncomfortable, “so when are you kids going to finally tie the knot and have a kid?” To the subtle shade like, “oh, I see you are getting a BIG slice of pie again.” And you can’t forget the classics like, “WOW, you voted for THAT guy?” and, “So what do you think about – insert hot button issue here?”

Anyone of these conversations is sure to start a gobble-squabble at the dinner table. Tom Golightly is the assistant director of athletics, counseling, and psychological services at Brigham Young University. He spoke with Dave & Dujanovic about how to keep conversations civil on Turkey Day. 

“Research is really clear that we’re not going to change anyone’s opinion around the dinner table,” said Golightly.

 Golightly continued that we need to avoid an “I win, you lose” situation with our families. Because ultimately, we just want to have a good time with them.

“If we can kind of shift the tone to be like, let me understand, let me be curious, and not really judge or getting a debate to win. And if we seek that understanding, then we kind of hit the sweet spot of why we’re interacting, which is generally to foster respect and affection. That’s why we’re together on a holiday,” said Golightly.


How to handle the uncomfortable Thanksgiving conversations

Now, in theory, Golightly’s observations are spot on. But in practice, there is always someone in the family who likes to ruffle the feathers. Ultimately, if you feel like putting the plate down and getting into a gobble-squabble, Golightly advises you to examine your relationship with the other person first.  

“Do I have enough trust and positivity with this person to have this discussion?” he said. “And if I can’t answer yes to that, I’m probably not wanting to engage that, because that person is just wanting to start some controversy.”

And just because you do feel comfortable having those conversations with a person doesn’t mean you have to, said Golightly. He continued and said that the best way to avoid these conversations, is to tell the other person how you feel.

“Speak personally, not along a party line, or an organizational line. But here’s how this impacts me. And if we talk about our feelings, it’s really hard for someone to say you don’t feel that way. Whereas if you pick up on on a policy or something that’s more broad, that’s political in nature, it’s a lot easier to pick up the debate.”

Related reading:

Today’s Top Stories

Dave & Dujanovic

Super agers have been identified by researchers as men and women over age 80 that have the cognitiv...
Curt Gresseth

SuperAgers — who are they, are you one, and can you become one?

SuperAgers are men and women older than 80 with the mental faculties of people decades younger.
3 days ago
A motorist drives through the snow in Olympus Cove in Salt Lake County. (Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret...
Curt Gresseth

Be Ready Utah: What you need in your emergency winter car kit

After a significant snowfall in northern Utah, are you prepared for a winter emergency while on the roads? Wade Mathews of Utah Division of Emergency Management -- Be Ready Utah joins the shows to give out holidays tips on being prepared for any challenges while driving.
5 days ago
COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO - NOVEMBER 20: People hold a vigil at a makeshift memorial near the Club...
Curt Gresseth

‘I trained for this,’ says veteran who took down gunman at nightclub

A veteran joins the show to provide insight into the actions of another veteran who limited the loss of life at a Colorado nightclub by subduing the gunman until police arrived on scene.
12 days ago
Rioters at the US Capitol...
Curt Gresseth

Utah bill would limit police access to your cellphone data

A spokesman for a a libertarian think tank in Utah discusses why he supports a bill at the Legislature limiting law enforcement access to the cellphone of a person near a crime scene.
13 days ago
rollercoaster lagoon...
Curt Gresseth

Lagoon spokesman explains big price hike for day pass

Lagoon announces Primordial, a new one-of-a-kind interactive rollercoaster, coming in 2023, but with the new ride comes higher season passes.
16 days ago
Police provided an update but added little new information about four University of Idaho students ...
Curt Gresseth

Police stay quiet after quadruple homicide in Idaho

A killer is on the loose, police in Moscow, Idaho, are tight-lipped and a community is on edge after four university students were found slain Saturday.
17 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
Pass the stuffing not the uncomfortable conversation this Thanksgiving