PORTLAND, Maine — As we get ready to gather around the dinner table with family, some people might be a little nervous about what those conversations will look and sound like.
"I would say your anxiety about it is well founded," family psychologist John Stewart said.
According to a New York Times and Sienna College poll done last month, about 20% of voters say they have had negative conversations with family and friends about politics in the last two years. They all also said those conversations have hurt that relationship.
The old advice: don't talk about religion or politics. Stewart said it's not a bad idea.
He said there's also a trend of people moving far from family members, and that can mean they're less likely to see eye-to-eye.
"People living much more transient lives, you know families love each other but still living thousands of miles apart," Stewart added.
Not only that, but many family functions typically include alcohol.
"That's another variable that you've already got this complicated set of dynamics you've gotta negotiate. Then you pour alcohol on top, which is disinhibiting. It makes people more likely to say what they're feeling," Stewart said.
He added that leading with kindness in these interactions is always the way to go.
"Be careful. Be gentle. Recognize that there are places you just can't go, and if you do, it isn't likely going to go well," he said.