Lori, there are entire books written on that subject by people much wiser than me. The only advice I can give you is threefold: find something you have in common with that person and stick with that thing as a topic of conversation; do not react to anything they do or say that's insulting; and finally, make sure your lime pit is deep enough.
Anonymous has this request:
Since you are smart and insightful, I'd like you to explain why piles of mail and assorted paper on the kitchen counter grow exponentially, and why scientists cannot harness the phenomenon to cure cancer.
Anon, it's funny you should ask. I've spent part of the last two decades examining this question, and I've come to the following conclusions:
Far from being able to harness the parthenogenetic power of paper to cure cancers, the phenomenon seems to be related to the uninhibited reproduction of malignant cells. There are further parallels in the asexual reproductive capabilities of wire hangers in dark closets and single socks.
Current research seems to suggest that a long, steady glare at piles of paper will, to some extent, inhibit reproduction on flat surfaces. Exposure of both sides of each piece of printed material to light is much more effective, however; this method seems also to work with wire hangers. Interestingly, these treatment methods have their antecedents in targeted light therapies for certain malignant growths.
Nothing seems to work yet, either systemically or as a targeted therapy, for single socks. My personal line of research at this point is whether or not the second sock of the pair will be electromagnetically attracted to the singleton if that singleton is coated with enough dust and lint to make it unrecognizable. My hypothesis right now is that singleton socks suffer from "mother rejection" syndrome, as is often seen in cute widdle baby lambs in James Herriot novels (cf "All Creatures Great and Small").
If I can't get the former pair of each singleton sock to accept the disguised singleton, I'm thinking of placing them in foster pairings with tights or pantyhose. This method has worked well in other species such as chipmunks (with cats) and tigers (with Dalmatians). See YouTube, ref. "Cute! *** adopts *** baby!" for further research.
I have the sneaking suspicion that all three things: socks, hangers, and cancer are related somehow to string theory and the secret recipe for Twinkies. If we can lick one, we've got 'em all licked.