Typically, there are dozens of topics for "big conversations" at home and in the workplace. Now, there just seems to be one: the presidential elections. How can you participate in discussions about the candidates without risking your job, losing friends, or alienating your significant other? Here are 10 tricks and traps for discussing politics:

1. Know thyself. It may be okay for most people to talk politics, but take an honest look at yourself. Are your feelings so passionate that you'll let the conversation get out of control, and you'll lose your cool as soon as someone disagrees with you? If so, then steer the conversation in another
direction or leave the room.

2. Know others. Maybe you can keep your cool during a conversation about the presidential candidates, but judge whether those around you can do the same before you launch into a discussion with them. And remember:just because someone can have a polite conversation about gun control or religion doesn't necessarily mean that a "Barack vs. Hillary" debate will go well. When it comes to politics, choose your conversational partners carefully!

3. Agree to disagree. Your mission in life isn't to persuade everyone in your sphere to vote for your presidential candidate of choice - nor do youhave to come around to your conversational partner's point of view. Know when to end a conversation by agreeing to disagree.

4. Stay flexible. Your vote isn't cast in stone until it's - well, cast. One of the things that can come out of a conversation is that you might gain a different perspective, or you might learn something new. Stay open to that possibility.

5. Don't do all the talking. During a heated discussion, it helps to really listen to what your conversational partner is saying. That means giving the other person a fair chance to speak - and then really listening to what that person has to say.

6. Be polite. Just because you have strong political beliefs doesn't mean that you have to raise your voice or use harsh language. Keep it civilized, and that will be a cue for those around you to do the same.

7. Remember where you are. If you're in the office, at the dinner table, or at a cocktail party, bear that in mind - and don't start shouting as though you're in a football stadium. Keep your demeanor appropriate for your surroundings.

8. Detach yourself. You are not the individual for whom you're voting, so don't take criticism of your preferred candidate personally. If you're a Mitt Romney fan and your boss isn't, what's the big deal? Your boss isn't insulting you, so don't internalize his or her words.

9. Put it in perspective. You can still love your significant other, and you can still respect your coworkers and friends, even if they don't share your politics.

10. Smile! Maintain your sense of humor, and keep the atmosphere light. We're lucky enough to have an opportunity to participate in the political process, and that certainly is something to feel good about - regardless of your politics.

Keep these 10 tips in mind, and you'll come through the political
season with your relationships intact - even if the aspirations of your political candidate don't survive.

Author's Bio: 

Author Bio: Debra Fine

Debra Fine, a former engineer, is now nationally recognized keynote speaker and author. She regularly keynotes and trains for organizations such as Cisco Systems, Lockheed Martin, the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, the Department of the Interior and hundreds of other associations and corporations. She has appeared on the Today show six times, along with CNN, The Early Show, Fox News Business and NPR Morning Edition. For additional information go to: www.DebraFine.com .