Ask Erin: How to avoid political debates with Aunt Frida | Kitsap Week

Ask Erin - Richard Walker
Ask Erin
— image credit: Richard Walker

Dear Erin,

How do I avoid political discussions with friends or family members whose views differ from mine?

Politically Perturbed in Poulsbo

Dear Perturbed,

Nothing can ruin a dinner party faster than rotten meat or a political debate.

If conversations begin to steer down a political road you do not wish to travel (a highway known for its infamous impasses), try to steer the discussion onto different subjects.

A useful technique is to ask questions. When interest in them is shown, people are flattered. Open-ended questions are a key to bringing the discussion back on track.

“Aunt Frida, how do you get your roses to bloom so profusely?” Aunt Frida will forget all about her candidate endorsement and launch into gardening tips.

If distracting with non-threatening questions don’t work, kindly, yet firmly, tell your friends and family that you aren't in the mood for a debate.

The best thing to say is, “I value your opinions, but I don't want to discuss politics.” Then begin a conversation with  party-neutral topics such as the Mariners or a recent (non-political) book you read.

Be prepared and have an arsenal of conversation subjects at the ready.

Begin to implement these skills now during this election cycle, and you'll be a pro by 2012 when politics will be harder to escape.

And for those who enjoy engaging in hearty political debates, be sensitive to others who may not feel the same. For many, politics, like bank balances and body weight, are personal.

Some people don't mind sharing what they weigh, nor weighing in on what they believe.

For others, they keep those matters heavily guarded.

— Ask Erin is a feature of Kitsap Week. Have a question? Write Ask Erin, Kitsap Week, P.O. Box 278, Poulsbo 98370 or email

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