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Anxious for Thanksgiving dinner debates? We asked a hostage negotiator how to get through them

Afraid of the upcoming Thanksgiving dinner debate over politics, religion, and more? Here are some tips from a hostage negotiator.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — To prepare for Thanksgiving dinner, thousands will head to the grocery store this week. But many also want to prepare for some uncomfortable dinner table conversations.

And of course there are some issues many families will try to avoid discussing this year, like politics.

One turkey shopper shared that she wasn't even hosting a family dinner this year due to vaccination disputes, adding, "Politics? Please don't go there. Religion? Let's not go there."

So what can you do to prepare for those conversation crises?

We decided to ask an expert on de-fusing any conversational bombshell: a hostage negotiator.

"Whenever families get together, tensions can run high... especially with the politics nowadays, you can run into that," Captain Theodore Haase, a Crisis Negotiator with the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office said.

But these concerns come from families all over. The sheriff's office says they actually get quite a few domestic calls this time of year.

"There's often an uptick in family arguments or disturbance calls right around overall holidays," Captain Haase added.

But if you can't avoid comments from that one uncle, there are still a few things you can do to bring decorum back to the dining table:

Practice active listening

"Showing that you're actually listening and actually respecting the other person's opinion," Captain Haase said.

Find common ground

Captain Haase added, "Try to find some common ground. There's a lot of positive things going on in the world out there to talk about, you know, some redirection. Let's talk about the good things that are going on in the world instead of the things that are dividing us and go forward from there."

Don't be afraid to take a break

"Once things have gotten heated up enough, it's time to try to get everyone to disengage for a while and go back to their respective corners," Captain Haase said.

And if all else fails, remember the real message of the holiday -- giving thanks.

One thanksgiving shopper sharing, "I find family above anything to be the most important."

And another adding, "Times are hard here, we know that the virus has shown us that and we ought to be thankful for everything."

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