After you head over the river and through the woods for Thanksgiving at the relatives' house, when it comes to the touchy subjects that might come up around the dinner table, that could be a good time to take the high road.

So, if you are in a situation and you realize that to engage is to lose, here are some simple deflections that can keep you from fighting with your brother/sister/mother/cousin/in-law.

Be interested, not interesting

This gift of this lesson that I learned from Marshall Thurber just keep on giving. It's such a brilliant concept that works in so many different situations. It teaches us to stop trying to show others how smart we are, how much we know, how considered our opinion is, and just listen. Just freaking listen!

If someone wants to go in a controversial direction, let them. Let them explain until they are blue in the face, and be interested and curious in what they are talking about. Ask questions. Listen to them and consider everything they say.

Don't try to interest them in what you think or your point on the subject. Just be interested in their take, listen to it for as long as they want to talk about it (unless you get the blowhard who just won't stop, in that case this may not be the technique that you want to use), and then I'll bet the subject will soon change to something else.

If they ask what you think about what they are saying, just reply with, "I don't know but I'm glad to have heard your perspective on it."

Note - being interested rather than interesting works in just about every interpersonal situation imaginable.

Think of something that you can talk about that will probably bore them

If someone asks you about your political views, or brings up theirs in a way that you don't want to engage in, simply feign ignorance, and bring up the most boring thing that you do.

I'd say something like, "I don't really pay attention to politics. I listen to music while I landscape. That's what I like to do. Do you want to see pictures of me installing a flagstone patio?"

They don't.

If you are my wife, you could bring up HGTV. Pick your boring, and stick with it.

Find something nice/compassionate to say about whatever they are discussing

Even if you think we should let Syrian refugees in and they don't, there is a way to find common ground. For example, if they are against letting refugees in, it's only because they are afraid someone is going to try to kill other Americans here in our country. Regardless of the likelihood of it happening or not, someone trying to kill another person is always scary. On that we can probably all agree.

And that's what you can do. Find a way to feel what they are feeling. You don't have to change your views. Just be compassionate about their feelings. Once we feel what others are feeling, we know more about them and ourselves.