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NV conservation group supports FERC's transmission planning rule; Memorial Day weekend includes Tornadoes and record-high temperatures; A focus on the Farm Bill for Latino Advocacy Week in D.C; and Southeast Alaska is heating homes with its rainfall.

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U.S. Supreme Court allows South Carolina gerrymander that dilutes Black voters, Sen. Ted Cruz refuses to say if he'll accept 2024 election results, and Trump calls Mar-a-Lago search an attempt to have him assassinated.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

How to handle challenging conversations this holiday season

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Wednesday, December 13, 2023   

In today's politically polarized world, holiday office parties and family gatherings can lead to increased tensions, arguments and even long-term damage to important relationships.

Christine Miles, author of the book "What is it Costing You Not to Listen," which offers tips on how to navigate difficult conversations, said instead of trying to challenge someone you disagree with, ask them questions -- like a journalist would -- to learn the story behind their position.

"Let that person talk more, sit back and listen to understand, seek the perspective they're coming from, and then the de-escalation begins," Miles explained. "That's not about agreement, that's just about 'where are you coming from?'"

Psychologists have warned holding back your feelings when someone makes an off-color comment can actually cause harm. Not speaking up can lead to depression and health problems, including immune dysfunction, hypertension and even cancer.

Miles added asking questions is one way to make your voice heard, lower tensions and decrease defensiveness. It is tempting to focus on trying to change someone's mind, which Miles noted is where arguments begin. Listening can be the best way to stop a fight before it starts.

"Because if someone wants to engage you in a point of view that you don't have, they might just be looking for the argument," Miles stressed. "If you take the bait, be careful, because that's where the damage can come in."

Miles emphasized listening to people who have different opinions by using your natural curiosity, can strengthen social bonds, and educate younger family members about the value of healthy debate. It is also a lot less effective -- for example, when trying to solve an important problem -- if you only engage with people who hold the same perspective or worldview.

"It doesn't bring out innovation, and it really misses a lot of important points," Miles cautioned. "Civic engagement is huge, but we have to manage our differences by seeking to understand, rather than seeking to change minds."


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