As the holiday party season heats up, it’s wise to plan ahead when it comes to managing conversations with co-workers and other guests. Business Insider turned to Lizzie Post, co-author of several Emily Post etiquette books, for these tips on avoiding uncomfortable conversations.

If you’re hosting, set some ground rules. Before arguments can take hold, consider announcing that it’s been a really interesting year for everyone and explicitly ask that no one talk politics. Redirect heated conversations to something personal and positive.

It’s not just politics that can turn friendly banter into negative debate. Conversations about finance, religion and romantic drama can do so as well. If you sense that has happened, gently step in and steer the conversation toward the positive by saying “I’d love to get away from FILL IN THE BLANK, and hear about your recent vacation, the photos you posted on Facebook, or your 2019 travel plans…”


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