Only 50 percent of the US population is fully vaccinated against Covid-19, so chances are, someone in your family or social circle has chosen not to take the shot. While this is their personal choice, it can make navigating gatherings tenser, especially as the Delta variant continues to surge across the country. So how should you navigate interactions with the unvaccinated? There’s no easy answer, but today we have three strategies for setting boundaries and expectations with unvaccinated friends and family.
Determine your boundaries and anticipate responses
Before you even engage with friends or family, decide what you personally are comfortable with in terms of interaction. Are you okay with gathering indoors as long as everyone wears masks, or would you prefer to stick to outdoor-only events? Heated conversations can make us concede on our principles, so set your boundaries early and clearly with yourself before even broaching the topic with others.
Practice your wording
Contentious conversations become even more difficult when they’re with people we care about. Practice what you are going to say to present your stance clearly and respectfully. Express that everyone has the right to make their own decisions, but at this time, your interactions must take place within certain boundaries for your comfort and safety. Anticipate arguments and be prepared to respond respectfully and calmly. Be prepared to present what you consider to be the best compromise for everyone’s health, safety, and comfort. This might mean going camping, rather than vacationing in a shared hotel room, or moving a birthday celebration outdoors.
Keep judgments to yourself
It’s easy to quickly judge those who do not share our opinions, but arguing or guilt-tripping will get you nowhere. Focus on “I” language which emphasizes your feelings and emotions without placing blame on the other party. If you really want to engage relatives and friends on the topic, consider offering up some reputable research sources as a starting point and ask them in turn to share their information which is making them hesitant. On the issue of vaccines, providing information without contention is likely your best bet.