Practicing Compassion at Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is a day of family, abundance, and gratitude. It is a day spent with those you love and those you may see only once a year. Thanksgiving is a joyous time of football, food, and celebration. Thanksgiving can also be a day where social, political, religious, and/or family differences give rise to conflict.

When tension arises, it can be valuable to remember to ask yourself the question “how can I practice compassion?” and to bring the second Principle of Family Matters’ Principles of LeadershipPeaceful Conflict Resolution – to bear.

Peaceful Conflict Resolution encourages us to turn conflict into an opportunity to understand perspectives that are different from our own in order to learn and grow from our new understanding. The process encourages us to enter into conflict with the intent to resolve it – increasing our empathy toward others and understanding their viewpoints, thereby strengthening our relationships.

The key to positive conflict resolution situations is that both sides try leaning in, listening closely to what each person is saying, and practicing compassion. Asking clarifying questions will reflect a person’s understanding of what the other person has said and give that person an opportunity to correct any misconceptions. Both parties are then able to move forward and work on an acceptable solution for the conflict.

A few things to remember:

  • Strengthening a critical relationship can be more valuable than “winning” a conflict.
  • It takes all parties involved to resolve a conflict.
  • Be sure conflicts are resolved rather than managed, otherwise they will likely flare up again.
  • Understand what “pushes your buttons” and how you can respond rather than react.
  • Practice compassion for yourself and others.

Although solving all of the world’s problems over Thanksgiving dinner is beyond reach, you may be able to bring a positive change for yourself and those around you by practicing compassion, which fosters open, respectful, and honest conversations that build authentic relationships.