Perhaps I will dedicate myself today to reviewing other people’s advice about how to deal with angry uncles at Thanksgiving. First up is Karin Tamerius, a former psychiatrist and the founder of Smart Politics. She recommends a five-step process:
- Ask open-ended, genuinely curious, nonjudgmental questions.
- Listen to what people you disagree with say and deepen your understanding with follow-up inquiries.
- Reflect back their perspective by summarizing their answers and noting underlying emotions.
- Agree before disagreeing by naming ways in which you agree with their point of view.
- Share your perspective by telling a story about a personal experience.
In order to practice, Tamerius has created the Angry Uncle Bot, which allows you to simulate a conversation with your Trump-loving uncle. That’s handy!
Unfortunately, the “correct” answers are pretty obvious, and it’s not clear if this technique has been tested in the real world. The Uncle Bot is an innovative idea, but I’m afraid the all-too-conventional 5-step process reduces its usefulness. I give it three uncles out of five.