Surviving the Holidays with Family You Don’t Normally Get Along With

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As the holidays approach, many of us are going to spend more time than usual with family members. And while most of that time is going to be filled with joy, it’s possible that some family members might get on our nerves, so here are some ideas to keep conflicts to a minimum.

Aggravation comes from differences: People get on our nerves because they are different than we are. They think differently, they communicate differently. And usually we think of ourselves as being right and the other person as being wrong. Often the louder, more opinionated people cause us the most grief, while quieter, more passive people just sit and suffer quietly.

Less Judging, less victim thinking, more curiosity: If you can practice thinking to yourself: That’s interesting – it may keep you out of arguments. You can even say: “That’s an interesting way of viewing things!”

The Negative Family Member: You may have a family member who tends to see the dark side of everything – you say something positive and they say something negative. These people are called mismatchers – one strategy is to point out the a negative before they do. It’s a beautiful day out there, except for being so cold. It’s a great looking tree except for the bare spot in the back. It was a great meal except the stuffing was a little dryer than I would like.

Communication styles: Practice matching the styles of the people of your family members: Be softer spoken with those who speak softly. Be a little more brash with those who are bolder.

If all else fails, have another egg nog, retreat into a corner with a good book and ride it out.
We’ll be taking a break for next Monday and see everyone on January 5th. If I can help your organization in the new year, please visit