Often times we hear from people that visiting for the holidays is strained. We don’t always get along with family members, but we’re stuck with them anyway. Other times our interactions are fine, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to make them even better. Today we are talking about having awesome holiday visits where interactions flow with ease and grace.
We cover this topic in depth in our recent radio show. If you’d like to jump to the show recording, you can click here.
To have better holiday interactions, keep in mind that most people are navigating through the world trying to get their own needs met. One set of basic needs we all have is to be seen, heard, understood, and valued. All of us have said and done things to be safe and to be valued and accepted. So, you can have compassion for them. At some point, you’ve probably been in a similar position.
Here are a few ways you have more grace filled interactions:
Find what you agree with
Rather than looking for what’s wrong or what you disagree with, look for what you can agree with. This includes looking for the main point of what they are sharing rather than focusing on the details. For example, they might say, “Wow, what a beautiful blue sky today.” You look up and see an orange sky sunset. So you might be tempted to point out that they sky is really orange, but their point is that it’s beautiful. And on that point, you can agree.
A part of this is to not bring up controversial topics which might incite others to disagree with you. Then you’ll be in a position where you feel you need to defend yourself, and fighting to be right.
When someone shares, affirm what they are saying. I am working on this one too. When someone shares, I often think, “Yep, that’s good.” And then I think about what else I can add to that. So I start adding to the conversation, but I haven’t spoken my prior thoughts out loud. This can leave the other person wondering if I liked what they said, agreed with it, or if I even heard them.
Tell people when you can relate to their experience. You can say, “Oh wow. If that were me, I’d feel so frustrated,” or “I’ve been in a situation like that, and for me it felt hurtful. Is that like what you are feeling now?”
There obviously can be a lot of nuance to be affirming without taking over the conversation, and without projecting too much of yourself onto the person. So, use good judgement here.
Make it meaningful
A lot of conversations over the holidays may be about events, philosophies, ideas, and things. Make room in the conversations to share the more meaningful things. Tell people what you appreciate about them. You might have to reach for this, but find something. Everyone has some redeeming qualities. You can start at a light level like complimenting their clothing or hair. Even more meaningful would be to compliment something about the person, like “I really like how giving you are,” or “I really appreciate your humor.”
And most importantly, say the meaningful things you would say if this were your last visit ever. Honestly, you can never know for sure that this might not be your last visit ever, and you wouldn’t want to feel deep regret that there were things left unsaid.