Isn’t it ironic… the holidays should be a time of celebration and happiness, yet for so many families it’s a time where family tension becomes amplified.
Nothing can give you stomach acid quicker than thinking about spending a few hours with relatives you simply don’t like or worse, don’t trust.
Here’s a quick and simple 3-part recipe:
#1 Set a reasonable goal – to be polite and respectful for a few hours at the holiday gathering
I realize there are certain people in your extended family you may never become best friends or even friends with. If you can be cordial and polite for a few hours you may give the whole family the opportunity to enjoy a holiday gathering without tension.
Remember energy is contagious. When you can be generous with your energy and model good vibes, you teach others in the family how to do the same. If someone in the family wants to “brood” or “mope” at the gathering, you’re cool demeanor will just further demonstrate who is mature and evolved and who needs to get help.
#2 Learn to engage in “conflict free” topic conversations and be nimble
I just spent time last weekend with one of my family members who I know wants to pull me into a political debate that will erupt in hostility. I know how it will go with him so I’ve learned to ask about how his kids are doing, what he thinks about the local football team, etc. I am prepared to redirect to neutral topics. We had a nice conversation – no harm, no drama.
Sure, it’s tempting to “spar” with an adversary, but when the adversary is irrational, immature or unstable – sparring is a foolish and unproductive activity.
#3 Learn to give a genuine “well-wish”
One way to build some positive energy and good Karma is to learn to express sincere well-wishes to people. So even with people with whom I have past issues, or people who have done or said things that have caused harm, I can still genuinely wish them good luck.
Why? Why not? Especially in your family. Even if I don’t particularly like someone or agree with their values I say, “I hope you and your family have a (good year, nice holiday) etc. Remember offering forgiveness or well-wishes is a gift you are not giving them, you are giving yourself.
Harboring ill feelings, negative energy or wishing bad upon others is not going to help your family.
Practice these three steps and you will bring you and your family one step closer to having a harmonious and healthy holiday season.
Pete Walsh is a demanding, courageous and playful Master Coach in Phoenix, Arizona. He is the founder of Peak Workout Business Coaching and the Family Business Performance Center. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.