The holidays are here! That usually means family gatherings. You can feel the excitement (or tension) in the air. These gatherings aren't always pleasant. Conversations can get heated, especially after the ugly presidential election we just endured. Here are some great suggestions for avoiding a very unpleasant holiday experience from

#1 Set ground rules. It's a great idea to send an email, detailing subjects that you want to avoid discussing.

#2 Keep your wits about you. If someone "goes there," temper your response. Take a deep breath, maybe ignore the inflammatory comment altogether.

#3 Think ahead. You know what your hot buttons are, and who's most likely to push them. Plan your responses.

#4 Don't let yourself be baited. When someone asks a leading question, that's designed to put you on the defensive, Calmly deliver an brief answer, then shut up. He who talks first loses. If they persist, say something nice to someone else.

#5 Remind yourself what's at stake. We all want approval. By the time you're an adult, much of that should come from within. Getting into a heated exchange will have a negative impact on everyone present.

#6 Have conversation topics prepared. Being ready to steer away from contentious topics to entertaining ones will make the occasion more enjoyable for everyone.

Happy Thanksgiving! By the way, you can put these ideas to use at Christmas, too!

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