No doubt about it: Family comes with lots of baggage. The holidays are a time for togetherness, so if your family arguments have been simmering for some time, chances are the holiday cheer will put them on the front burner. And then the question becomes: who is managing to stay cool? Here are five tips to help you stay cool, and calm, and mediate family conflicts over the holiday season.
Be respectful of each other’s opinions
The holidays are a time for togetherness, but that doesn’t mean it’s a time to agree with everyone. It’s important to respect each other’s opinions, even if they differ from yours. After all, you don’t want to get into an argument over dinner because someone brought up politics or religion.
Be willing to compromise
Compromise can be hard when people have different views but it’s useful when everyone is open to finding a middle ground. If you’re facing a situation where there’s no clear right or wrong answer, consider offering some leeway so each person gets something they want out of the situation.
Choose your battles wisely
It’s easy to get sucked into petty arguments during the holidays. You’re not going to win all of them, so pick your fights wisely. The holidays are a time of year when everyone is under a lot of pressure and stress; you have to be careful about which issues are worth fighting over.
Don’t take things personally
It can be easy to take things personally during the holidays because you have more time with family members than usual. But remember that everyone is coming from a different place in their lives and may have different expectations about their relationships with others in their family.
Stick to the facts. Avoid letting emotions get in the way.
The first step in mediation is getting everyone’s point of view out on the table in a non-judgmental way. That means avoiding blame and making sure that everyone is heard. The best way to do this is by sticking to the facts. Ask questions like “What happened?” or “What do you think happened?” This can help get people talking without making them feel attacked or blamed for their feelings or actions.
Don’t try to solve problems before they’re discussed openly and honestly by everyone involved in the conflict — especially when emotions are running high. If you jump into problem-solving mode before everyone has had their say, chances are you’ll miss important details that help explain why things went wrong — and how they might be fixed going forward.
While the above-mentioned tips are designed to help you break down any conflicts with your loved ones, they also can serve a dual purpose: keeping the peace with others during the holidays. Whether your family is large or small, there’s bound to be some conflict when everyone is trying to share space, time, and resources. But armed with these tips, arguing will be the last resort, and you’ll have a better chance of staying cool and remembering why gathering with friends and loved ones is so important in the first place.