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4 Tips For Navigating The Holiday Season

Home / Conflict / 4 Tips For Navigating The Holiday Season

Ah yes, the season is upon us. The season of Christmas full of egg nog, presents, and functions. Work parties, family gatherings, dinner parties, and so much more. It’s festive and fun! What’s not to love? There are gifts, singing, food, spiked cider, family traditions, and I’m just talking about one of those gatherings! You get the point. It’s a happy time of year.

Or is it? One thing we know is that when two or more people are gathered, the likelihood of conflict increases by roughly 1000%. We might get stuck in our room with a colleague that only wants to critique everything we do, perhaps our mother-in-law won’t stop making degrading comments about what we wore, or our boss drinks too much nog and starts an unhealthy monologue about your department… Work, family and friend gatherings can bring a lot of stress and anxiety during the holiday season.

I don’t want you to feel this way, so here are some tips on how to get through the next couple of weeks of holiday parties…and who knows! Maybe you’ll even crack a smile or two ☺

1. Prepare

You can see the party coming up in your schedule in a couple of days, you might as well start preparing! You don’t have to do anything major to prepare yourself, just think through a couple of things. For starters, who is going to be at this party? Is that snarky spouse of your colleague going to be there spreading her Christmas fear? Maybe that awkward uncle that seems to have some sort of vendetta against you? So what are you going to do? Start thinking of questions or comments that they might say and how you might respond. Then get some sleep! You want to bring your ‘A’ game to the party. Make sure you’re well rested so that you can think on your feet and engage with the folks around you. One last thing…make sure you don’t get “hangry!” Know that the food is likely to be a bit later? Make sure you give yourself a snack on the way to party so you’re not snapping at people for lack of food.

2. Take Your Temperature

When my little one looks like she may be getting sick, I give her a thermometer a few times to monitor how’s she doing. While you’re at your function, it’s a good idea to keep tabs on how you’re doing too. Are you feeling frustrated because you spilled some red wine on your shirt? The kid toys making crazy amounts of noise? The person sitting next to you won’t stop tapping their foot? As these types of things start to annoy us, they stack on top of one another and push us towards our blowing over point. Also, since most parties are later in the day, we’re probably already mentally exhausted about all the minor (or major) decisions that we’ve had to make over the course of the day. So when you feel yourself running short on patience and see the “little” annoyances building it’s time to go somewhere and cool off. Maybe it’s time to leave, or even just take a break to calm the waves.

3. Managing Your Hot Buttons

We all think (read: know) we’re awesome right? I mean, look at us…how could anyone not think so? What happens though when someone contradicts our positive opinion of ourselves or hits us where it already hurts? We get hooked. It’s like getting a haircut that you’re in love with and dismissing the 100 compliments you get because of that one negative remark. Do you know when you’ve been hooked? When we experience an action negatively, we tend to attribute that same emotion to the other person’s intent. But what happens if that wasn’t the other person’s intent at all? Often when we have a past (not-so-nice) history with that person, we view all future interactions through the lens of the past. When you sense your buttons being pushed, take a break, talk yourself down, remind yourself that it isn’t important to defend yourself. It can help to bring a friend along to these parties – someone you can bounce some ideas off of and who can tell you whether you’re being ridiculous or not.

4. Get Curious

What would it look like if we reserved all of our judgements and lived for the length of the party from a place of curiosity? Sit back and get curious! Remember that annoying spouse of your colleague? What makes him/her tick? What would it look like if we treated everyone we came across as the most important person in the world? I wonder how that might change our frame of mind as we engage with that person. Imagine the questions we’d ask! The attention that we’d give! The grace we’d extend.

I hope these 4 tips will help you as you navigate your upcoming celebrations! We’d love to hear other tips or tricks that you use in difficult situations, so sign up for our email community and let’s chat!

Jason Dykstra

Jason is in the business of helping organizations move from conflict situations to creative solutions. He has particular skills in communication systems, organizational culture and leadership development.

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