Christmas can be a stressful time for many people. Existing tensions between family members can be exacerbated. Children get overtired, we eat too much, drink too much and spend many hours traveling to and fro to numerous Christmas functions.
- So how do you deal with all of this and still stay sane?
- How do you keep the focus on family, fun and friendship when everything is chaotic around you?
- How can you be the leader in your family when tension is high?
These are my Top Five Ways to Deal with Conflict at Christmas.
When your buttons are pushed STAY SILENT.
It is so easy to react and quickly. There is always a moment to pause and consider your response if you look for one. Remember to breathe!!
- Is this about you or about what is going on for them?
- Do you need to let this go?
- Consider the ramifications of speaking out – is this the right time?
- Is there a way that you can communicate in a loving, compassionate way? If so points 2-4 will help.
Keep in mind that alcohol and fatigue can effect your capacity to choose your response. Consider this when planning your day!
2. People love to be witnessed
Sometimes people just want to be heard. Auntie Martha really wants to share with you all her health issues over the last year. Little Jenny would love for you to play with her new doll house while she tells you how much she loves Christmas.
The best gift you can give is your complete presence. Then when you can no longer give them that, politely excuse yourself. Know that this is OK.
3. Focus on what you appreciate
Do you have one of those family members who is always putting you down, asking whether you “have met the one yet”, or if you “are making any money on that crazy business idea of yours!”
These comments can really sting, especially if it is something that is important to you. First of all breathe. PAUSE while you consider your response. Sometimes it is best just to smile and say nothing! Especially if they are looking for you to bite back.
Focus on what you appreciate about this person. See who they are behind this facade, because that is all it is. It is the way they have learned to get attention.
If you feel comfortable share something like this…”John, I really appreciate your wit and humor, because I know deep down that your really care about how I am doing.”
To do this you have to mean it! Only say something that is true for you. You can then move onto step 4.
4. Communicate compassionately from your heart.
I will always encourage you to speak from your heart. This can mean telling people how you really feel about them, or it can mean communicating when you have been hurt or your needs are not being met.
If this is the right time for this, then I encourage you to speak from your heart, even if it is a conflicting situation. Unsaid words can really damaging to relationships. There is a right and a wrong way to do this.
You can yell back an equally scathing and sarcastic comment or you can use a feedback sandwich! First, share what you appreciate about then, then share something like this…
“John, I need you to know that when you joke around about me in that way it makes me feel really inadequate. I really care about this business and realistically it is going to take a while for things to be really profitable. What I need most is your respect and encouragement.”
With a statement like this you are gently teaching someone how you would like to be treated in a way that demonstrates mutual respect.
Always finish with a positive… “I really do love spending time with you and want that to continue for many years to come.”
5. Give people space
Sometimes people just need space and that includes you! It is OK to request some time by yourself, or suggest if things are a little heated or uncomfortable that some space may be required
The line…”I just need to think about this for a while to figure out how I feel. Can I get back to you?” is a very useful one!
Quiet time for you and for your children is especially important in these busy times. So take some time to sit quietly and breathe. The more you can stay connected to what is important for you, the more resources you will have to deal with this busy time.
You can be the leader here. Set the example for your whole family and notice the difference it makes.