In an ideal world, the holidays would only be filled with good times and happy memories. Unfortunately, most families don’t live in that Norman Rockwell reality.
It seems that every family has at least one relative who excels at creating drama during the holidays. When you’re around such negative or aggressive people, it’s common to feel apprehensive, defensive, and uncomfortable. Your body may react to stressful situations by secreting excessive amounts of adrenaline, which will make you feel even more anxious and on edge.
So how do you handle someone who thrives on conflict? Fighting fire with fire, by raising your voice or using abusive or unsavory language, certainly won’t help matters. Avoiding confrontations isn’t the answer either, since minimizing or brushing aside a dispute can further embolden the instigator and make things even worse. To effectively deal with disagreements, handle them calmly and appropriately as they happen.
If you encounter family strife this holiday season, implement these three practical strategies:
Keep Your Cool
To prevent a pressure packed situation from getting out of hand, always keep your cool. Closely monitor your comments and reactions to make sure they’re coming from a rational place, rather than an emotional one. Offer your relative thoughtful advice rather than criticism. Tone of voice is crucial in disarming a potentially heightened situation.
Build a Bridge
Instead of trying to convince the other person that your viewpoint is correct, attempt to understand their perspective as well. The main objective isn’t to win the argument but to remove potential threats, address concerns and find common ground with the other person. Building a bridge is the best way to avert a quarrel before it even starts.
Take It Outside
When drawn into a discussion that makes you feel uncomfortable, look for a way to redirect the conversation. If that doesn’t work, find a polite way to remove yourself from the situation. Playing a game is a great way to get the entire family outside for some fun and exercise. It’s also an effective way to let off some steam when things get too tense inside the house.
It has been said that the holidays bring out the best and worst in people. When it comes to the latter, you don’t have to let someone else ruin your holiday. Practicing these conflict management strategies can help to ensure that everyone in your family enjoys a fun-filled, stress-free holiday season.
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