Communicating during the holidays can be tricky. Conversations and visits can easily move from festive to fighting. In addition to shopping, entertaining, and visiting, most of us will have to interact with relatives, friends, and co-workers. The result can be stress and angst. Or a full-blown battle.
To avoid a communication debacle this holiday season, consider the following:
1. Plan to have a relaxing visit. Forget previous holidays, discussions, disagreements, and conversations. Go in with a clean slate and open mind.
2. Have a drink. Don’t overdo it because things could turn ugly. One drink can help take the edge off.
3. Focus on positive topics. Too many of us are dealing unemployment, money problems, and everyday challenges. You don’t know everything that goes on in other homes, marriages, or relationships. Don’t allow your conversation to become a ”pity party.”
4. Remember that not every comment or statement requires an answer. Silence and a smile can be very powerful. In other words, bite your tongue.
5. Go outside. It may be too cold or rainy to take a walk around the corner, but you can step onto the front porch for a few minutes. Invite someone special, or the entire group, to join you. The dynamics will shift and the crisp air can be rejuvenating.
6. Be prepared with a small supply of friendly and neutral small-talk starters or stories. Just in case things get awkward.
7. Pass on being a “topper.” If Uncle Joe’s raving about his week in Florida, allow him have his moment. Don’t ”one up” him by mentioning you just returned from a free cruise to the islands because you were the No. 1 sales rep. (Refer to No. 4)
8. Mingle with the kids. This can bring levity to the day.
9. Offer to help. Some of the best conversations I’ve had with family and friends have taken place while clearing dishes or taking out the trash.
10. Show gratitude. Regardless of how happy or unhappy you were during your visit, tell your host that you appreciate their efforts and invitation.