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After 13 years as a mediator, I’ve observed a lot of conflict. Here are some things my clients do that help them deal with conflict. Use these tips to make your holidays more bearable and even – yes! – enjoyable.
- Plan your escape. Put something on your schedule for later on, like dessert with other relatives, friends, or colleagues, so you can leave an awkward or unpleasant gathering. No one needs to know that “desert with other relatives” is just you going home and having hot chocolate by yourself.
- Stabilize yourself. Imagine that you’re your favorite superhero, the wisest person you know, or a stable structure (given where I live, I visualize myself as Mt. Rainier). Re-create this image of stability during stressful times.
- Say no. Say no to being on the holiday planning committee at work. If you feel uncomfortable saying no, that may just mean that you’ve been taught to feel bad about doing it.
- Enjoy the cranberry sauce or the applesauce. Anything that you do like, enjoy it as much as you can. Give yourself something positive to focus on.
- Practice bland responses. Nothing flummoxes difficult people like innocuous remarks. “That’s an interesting perspective,” “Why, how sweet of you,” and “Likewise, I’m sure” are three good ones.
- Stage a coup. This year, invite everyone to your place. If anyone behaves badly, show them the door.
- Preempt your tormentors. If someone always says unkind things to you, go over and talk to them first. Sabotage their unkindness by talking about the weather, or how great the green bean casserole was.
- Call people out. Your sister snubs you? Name it: “You just turned your back on me.” No response? Add: “I want you not to do that.”
- Camouflage yourself. Spending time with people from different cultures, cuisine, and conversational styles? Make your life easier by temporarily adapting to their way of being.
- Think of all the great stories you’ll have. Next time you and your friends are discussing holiday horror stories, you’ll have the best!
Photo credit: © 2009, Images by John ‘K’, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.