When thinking of a healthy holiday habit, how often does how you communicate come to mind? Even the most affectionate, friendly family gatherings have the potential for poor communication and misunderstanding to derail an otherwise pleasant event. Your siblings, parents, children, extended family members, even friends bring their life experience, opinions, triggers and more to such events.
Being prepared to offset or positively affect these encounters may seem pointless.
The reason holiday drama is so readily accepted is that few realize how simple it can be to shift the experience. The irony is that even the most modest shift in one person’s perspective, can have momentous impact on the experience on many.
My family is no different. Over the years, depending on the circumstances each family member’s year, gatherings can easily lead to heated conversations, hurt feelings, tense interactions and quite frankly, relief when the whole season has come to an end!
In talking to friends and clients, a common theme is that the same drama plays out repeatedly each year, with little to no change in the outcome. It is a wonder many families even bother to get together for the holidays.
What if this particular holiday habit could be improved for the better?
What if changing this habit was actually quite simple?
So what’s this simple Five Step System to healthy holiday conversations?
HEALTHY HOLIDAY HABIT STEP 1: Know your specific triggers.
If you have repeatedly heated conversations with the same individual over and over, ask yourself why it hits a nerve. Is it the context, the person, or the way it makes you feel?
HEALTHY HOLIDAY HABIT STEP 2: Get clear on the outcome you desire from your next holiday gathering.
What do you want to feel before, during and after attending each holiday event?
Knowing the only conversations, behaviors, and responses you can control are your own, what would you do differently in the direction of your desired outcome?
HEALTHY HOLIDAY HABIT STEP 3: Assertively communicate while suspending assumptions and judgment…yes, SUSPEND assumptions and judgment!!
Notice I mentioned this is a simple system, not to be confused for an easy system.
When speaking assertively, simply make sure the words you use are in line with your tone of voice and body language.
Are you willing to experiment with this concept? Even if, occasionally, your assumptions about your family are spot on, what if even once, you were wrong? What if you just did not have all the information.
What if you were correct and you were still willing to respond differently, to get the outcome you desired?
HEALTHY HOLIDAY HABIT STEP 4: Empathy. Listen to understand.
Let the person know you have heard them by telling them what you hear them saying. It does not matter if you are wrong, if they feel heard, they will clarify for you. In turn, you may find yourself receiving empathy in response.
HEALTHY HOLIDAY HABIT STEP 5: Align your behavior with the outcome you desire.
In speaking with clients, they truly believe they have no control over the experiences that play out during holiday events. Year after year, each individua plays their ‘role’, never to disappoint.
Clearly you do not have control over other’s behavior, yet you can certainly influence their behavior with you own. Why not shake things up in a positive way?
If you would like to learn more how to implement these five steps at your next holiday get together, please connect with me at Melissa.Healy@MelissaHealyCoaching.com