The holidays are full of wonder, joy, excitement, and … lots of yelling!
Yes, bringing family together from far and near can create friction when it comes to everyone’s opinion about everything. And since a lot of people feel total freedom in posting their opinions all over social media, it’s not too suprising to know what the hot topics of the holidays will be when the family gathers to break bread.
#1 Lower Your Expectations
So, yeah…this is so simple and yet so hard to do if you are dreaming of spending a joyous holiday with your family Norman Rockwell style.
Lowering your expectations just means that you are accepting reality. Everyone in your family has a different opinion about politics, business, and family drama. There is a legitimate reason why you don’t all live together, and that’s okay.
Think about why you want to celebrate the holidays with your family. Is it to change their mind about politics or to enjoy seeing them over a holiday meal. (HINT: Don’t try to change anybody during Christmas dinner! Bad idea!)
#2 Stick to Light Conversation Topics
Let’s leave politics, war, and religion at the door. Try to stick to the weather, sports, and learning more about your family members and their lives.
One of my favorite memories of family get togethers during the holidays was hearing stories about my parent’s childhood with their siblings. Funny stories about things they did to their parents or sibling rivalries.
#3 Change the Topic of Conversation
If you start to notice a difficult conversation happening, try to find a way to change the topic. Give that difficult person a job to do or find another way to distract them.
You could use a simple phrase, “I’m not really sure I understand, could you tell me more about that?” or change the topic by asking questions about the person, sports, weather, or any other non-conflict topic.
#4 Ask yourself, is it worth responding?
Sometimes we have to really ask ourselves is it worth responding to someone who is making an outlandish claim. Is your response really going to make a difference in this moment? Or will you just be feeding into the conflict and allowing it to grow into something major?
Take a step back. Pause for a minute. Or just simply walk away from the conversation (politely, of course).
#5 Agree to Disagree
Just know that there are some topics and conversations that you and your family members are never going to agree on. It’s okay!
We don’t have to agree on every topic. Our diversity in thoughts and beliefs makes us better. So, if you do get into a difficult conversation, make a point to be respectful. Listen and ask questions so that you can better understand that person’s point of view. Then, focus on interests and not positions. Try to find middle ground. For example, if you are talking about healthcare, recognize that ultimately you both want people to be healthy and leave it at that!