Finding Common Ground at the Thanksgiving Table

A table with dishes left over from a Common Ground meal

This week, many Americans are busy preparing for Thanksgiving – picking up a turkey, digging out old family recipes, and making sure there are enough chairs around the table for every guest. But what if everyone seated around the table doesn’t see eye to eye? If you’re worried about how the conversation around your Thanksgiving table might unfold, the Common Ground Civility Rules – developed for this year’s #CG2018 day of community conversation – offer a path toward positive dialogue. If thousands of strangers can come together to share a meal and a constructive conversation at Common Ground, surely your Thanksgiving guests can too!

Common Ground Civility Rules:

  • Value all voices: Make sure there is room for the quietest among us to be heard in conversation.
  • Listen to understand: Strive to understand each other, even across differing points of view. 
  • Speak from experience: We build understanding by replacing generalizations with personal observations about ourselves and our own lives.
  • Respect everyone: We all want what’s best for our families and our communities. Even if you disagree, don’t be disagreeable.
  • Look forward: Focus on possibility, on how to start and who can help.
  • Question kindly: Each unknown is an opportunity to grow. If you disagree, try to learn. Ask questions. Be kind.

If you’re hosting the meal, set the tone of the conversation by asking each person around the table to share something they’re grateful for. Or, set some ground rules to make the table a safe space for all guests. For more tips on how to foster positive conversations, refer to our Common Ground Facilitation Guide here

From all of us at the Cleveland Foundation, best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving!