We all know the traditional prohibitions against talking politics: avoid it when you can; don't get personal; find common ground. Thirty million etiquette books can't be wrong, and yet, today, when everyone's bursting with excitement and exaltation and triumph, the old rules don't seem to apply! How can anyone not want to talk about it, you think - how can anyone not be excited?!And yet, as we know, not everyone is. Some very dear friends and relatives and other assorted grinches are glum and, however inexplicable this may seem, these encounters can't be avoided indefinitely. I learned this the hard way this morning, and ended up in tears of frustration and rage. So listen up: however tempting it may be to do a victory dance and rub their faces in the mud and toss "loser!" around like grass seed, here's a better idea. I read through a slew of old-timey manuals - A 1938 Emily Post, my trusty Miss Manners 1940's Today's Etiquette, The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette and 1937's Etiquette for Every Day, to bring us advice on this subject and created a digest of sorts.* The etiquette books are right about one thing: try to avoid it. Put it off as long as possible. Wait until passions have cooled. Avoid calls. Don't pretend solicitude, don't try to be adult, don't try to convince anyone or assume anybody's mind has been changed by the outpouring of joy and enthusiasm that's swept you up. This isn't only to preserve family harmony; rather, it's a way for you to enjoy things for a little while before reality intrudes. -Stick to a Script. As with any tricky conversation, this is invaluable advice. Stick to talking points: this is what I did last night; yes, I'm happy; I know this isn't what you wanted but let's all try to be optimistic. (This last bit of inclusive language sounds extra-mature.) -Keep It Short. THIS IS ESSENTIAL. Things can only go in one direction and that's pear-shaped. Holidays are coming and big fight should be avoided at all costs. Manufacture an excuse to end the call beforehand if possible. -Do. Not. Gloat. Nearly impossible, true. But empathy is essential here. There's nothing worse than a bad winner. -Have an exit strategy. This comes courtesy of Anna Post, who advises lines like, "I guess we just don't see eye-to-eye; or: I'll have to consider that; or: For me, it's private." -End on a good note. If it's a family member, "love" is always a good option. If not, a warm "take care," shows you to be a mature adult who's a fitting representative for her candidate. *It should be said this all presupposes a certain degree of reason on the part of your conversational partner.
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