It’s that time of the year again when we travel near and far to spend time with family and loved ones. To enjoy the time that you have together, here are 5 tips to keep the peace this holiday season!
1. Avoid landmines. No one knows how to get under your skin faster than the people who are closest to you. Likewise, you also know what will trigger them because there is history there. Well, think of each negative historical moment as a landmine and try to avoid explosions. If you know that bringing up a particular topic, person or event will lead to an uncomfortable or hostile situation– steer clear of it. You also don’t want to create new landmines this holiday season.
2. Find common ground. Is there some neutral territory that you have in common or that you can explore? Is there a movie that you saw, book you read or trip you took that you can discuss? There has to be a common denominator that you and another person love, hate or are both ambivalent about where conversations are safe. Find that mutual place and stay there.
3. Don’t be a mirror. Although the Golden Rule says to treat people the way that we want to be treated, we know that most people treat people the way that they are being treated. This holiday decide not to be someone’s mirror and do not reflect back whatever behavior they are showing you. To take it a step farther, do the opposite of what they do to you. Lower your voice when someone yells at you. Smile at someone who frowns. You may not be able to control their behavior, but controlling yours can help de-escalate and change the course of a conflict quickly.
4. Is it them? Ask yourself if you are reacting to who the person is or what the person is saying or doing. If it is the person who is setting you off, then consider spending a limited amount of time with this particular person this holiday. If you are reacting to their words or actions, you have other tips here you can try. Remember that sometimes people are just having a bad day and their behavior may have absolutely nothing to do with you- you just happen to be there. The key here is to figure out what you are responding to and not let them affect your mood.
5. Have an anchor. Wear something– glasses, jewelry, a hat or some other accessory– that you can touch to help ground you and bring you back to reality during those particular trying moments with your family. When a situation is bubbling people often feel disconnected. Touch your anchor object to give you a few seconds to choose your words and be thoughtful about what you are saying or doing in the moment.6. Bonus tip – Silence works. From the first instance that you realize conflict is escalating or if you have tried tips 1-5 and you still see the storm coming your way, sometimes the best technique is to not engage and remain silent. People tend to talk more when you don’t speak to fill the silence. Plus, for some people it is hard to pick a fight with someone who is not taking the bait. So put some food in your mouth or use your poker face and let the storm pass right on by you.