(CBS DETROIT) – Holidays are a great time to catch up with family and friends, but things can turn sour when a conversation sparks controversy at the dinner table.

Instead of avoiding it altogether one professor suggests engaging in productive dialogue.

Virginia Tech assistant professor Todd Schenk says, “Respect the person you are speaking with and accept that they have positive and negative traits.”

Abide by a set of ‘ground rules’ such as no personal attacks and no interrupting.

Practice ‘active listening’ by asking questions to further understand the other person’s views and show that you understand what they are saying.

And very importantly, think before you speak.

If all else fails, there’s always eggnog.

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