Surviving Tough Conversations During the Holidays
Despite what tv commercials and Netflix movies continually try to sell us, we all know that the holiday season is not as ‘joyful and merry’ as it’s made out to be. The holidays are actually a time of great stress and anxiety for many. Work holiday parties, family functions, reconnecting with/or missing people we have difficult relationships with. It is a time of great expectations, many awkward conversations and one too many invasive questions.
All of the above make the holidays a perfect recipe for (new and old) conflict. Nothing brews a conflict like being stuck in a room with a coworker or superior you have beef with at a holiday party. Or perhaps what sets you off is having to sit for family dinner with members who quite openly do not share your values and love to provoke ‘debate’. Maybe it’s just the stress of taking on all the added responsibilities that come with hosting that make you struggle with setting boundaries. Maybe there are people we love that we cannot see this time of year for a variety of reasons and it causes us a lot of pain. There truly is something for everyone to get upset about during this time of year.
This post is for those of us who find ourselves having to have tough conversations during the holiday season.
Whether it’s dealing with said invasive questions, political debate, or defending your identity, beliefs or choices; having some tools under your belt to support yourself in managing those conversations so they do not turn into four alarm blowouts is essential for staying well and for some, surviving the next few weeks.
I wanted to provide some tips for surviving tough conversations and I hope they help those of you who sense a struggle coming! I will also be offering a promotion of short 30 minute coaching and consultation sessions for those who want more one on one support. For 25$ receive a 30 minute consultation on what will best help minimize conflict and escalation in your situation. We’ll talk about the conflict you’re worried about and discuss strategies for surviving it. These sessions will happen online so they are open to anyone, anywhere! Book one now as spots are limited!
Here are some of my tips!
Mentally prepare your limits
Some of us prefer to avoid thinking about what’s to come while others spiral into panic; neither of which are super useful. However, it is useful to acknowledge that things are going to be challenging and think about what you’re willing and not willing to withstand. These limits can change but have a rough idea of what you are not willing to deal with. For example, I am willing to attend one dinner and that’s it. Or, I will attend the holiday party but only for a couple of hours.
Use your limits to determine your boundaries; set them and hold them firmly
Boundaries are honestly our life jackets during stressful situations. For example, I will not be speaking or engaging with this person; I will not engage in conversation that asks me to justify my identity or my choices; I will not volunteer to take on more support roles or tasks.
Setting boundaries for yourself can be easy, but enforcing them can be difficult. If you are someone who struggles in this area try practicing in advance or let’s chat about what you can do to hold them more successfully during a one on one coaching session.
Learn what clues indicate escalation or moving outside of what you can tolerate
What does your body tell you when you start to lose control? Do you feel rage bubbling inside of you? Do you become hot and flustered? Do you start to raise your voice? Identify these clues and use them as your cue to DISENGAGE. It’s less about winning and more about keeping things de-escalated so it’s easier to escape.
Don’t fall for the bait: practice escalation minimizing behaviour
Instigators will try to provoke you. People who are whether knowingly or ignorantly not self aware might try to insight you. They may want to see you get upset. Conflict to them is about winning. But remember, we don’t need to win even though it can feel like a great injustice to walk away. Stick to escalation minimizing language and behaviour.
If you want to learn more about escalation minimizing behaviour, you can contact me for a short 30 minute coaching and consultation session! For 25$ receive a 30 minute consultation on what behaviours will best help minimize conflict and escalation in your situation. We’ll talk about what conflict you’re worried about and discuss strategies for surviving it.
Have a support plan in place (person, place, practice):
Sharing space with someone you are in conflict with? Have somewhere you can go to decompress. Have a friend, family member, or co-worker around or on call who you can go to for support. If you do not have a person or a place then sub in a practice that will help bring down activation levels. This can be belly breathing, meditation, going for a walk (for those of us with flight responses), laying under blankets, visualizing the release of excess energy, practicing grounding exercises, etc etc.
If you are unsure what practices or strategies might work for you, feel free to get in touch for a short 30 minute coaching and consultation session! For 25$ receive a 30 minute consultation on how to survive the holidays. We’ll talk about what conflict you’re worried about and discuss strategies for surviving it.
I hope you find this helpful! Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you’re feeling like you need more detailed and tailored support. Get in touch now! Contact me as spots are limited.