The holiday season is upon us! 🎉 That means many of us are prepping for family gatherings, outings with friends, and a copious number of cheesy Hallmark movies…Or is that just us?
Holidays often bring feelings of warmth and gratitude, but they can also be a time of tension and challenge, especially around the dinner table. How can you minimize conflict?
Always bring a G.I.F.T! 🎁
🎁 GET CURIOUS: It’s easy to lose curiosity about someone with whom you’ve had conflict in the past. As a result, you might jump to conclusions about what they’ll say or how they’ll act ahead of time. Instead, jot down 2-3 questions to ask that person at your gathering. You may find your assumptions were wrong or that you even have things in common.
🎁 INQUIRE FIRST: Chances are, there will be someone at the gathering who’s not on your nice list. If they bring up a topic you have differing perspectives on, it’s easy to get defensive and default to simply making statements. Instead, consider asking their perspective first. This boosts feelings of liking, cooperation, and willingness to engage in future conversations. It’s as simple as asking, “Can you tell me more about how you came to your perspective?”
🎁 FOLLOW UP: Questions are only as powerful as your willingness to listen to the answers. Even if you’ve gotten curious and inquired first, it’s tempting to just let the other person’s statements drop — especially if you don’t like their answers. Instead, use the “Three-Question Challenge.” For example, when your conspiracy-minded uncle says he loves a particular podcast, ask three follow-up questions about it before sharing your thoughts.
🎁 TURN IT AROUND: Eventually, you’ll want to share your own perspective. To do so without fanning flames, listen both to what the other person is saying and how they feel about what they’re saying. Then, mirror it back to them. In this way, you show you’re truly listening and create a turnaround where you get an opportunity to share your views. For instance, when your mom’s friend complains that “younger generations don’t know how to work hard anymore,” don’t just counter her statement. Instead, say, “Sounds like you really care about quality hard work getting done. Can I share what that means to me?”
So, to make your upcoming gatherings less fraught and more festive, remember to always bring a G.I.F.T!