Can you feel it? We are about to enter the most seriously awkward of holiday seasons EVER.
Politics. Bullying. Name-calling. Racism. Sexism. Misogyny. Social justice. Conservatives! Liberals!.....it's all about to be going down around your holiday spread. Grab the....stuffing.
Already imagining infuriating things your relatives are capable of saying?
YOU are not alone.
And I don't think Adele can save us this year.
So, I've put together a few expert tips to get you through this most-difficult of Holiday Seasons.
1. This one's tough.....Check all your righteous superiority at the door. Here's how I think about it. Superiority is:
I'm right; you're wrong.
I'm better than you; you're less than me.
I'm smart; you're stupid.
And it's definitely not correlated with creating change, but it is likely to produce increased levels of defensiveness in the listener.
It will behoove you to check all of that at the door. In EVERYONE's MIND they're RIGHT. EVERYONE is doing what they think is BEST.
I KNOW...that's REALLY hard to believe right now.
But when you enter into a conversation from a superior place, you are inherently communicating that the other person is wrong, less than you, or stupid. This will most likely get met with defensiveness and MORE superiority. What does that get for you? A conversation where everyone is talking, but no one is listening...and these can easily escalate.
Yelling happens when people don't feel heard.
When someone tries to enter a conversation with me from this place I don't engage the content, I address the intent instead: "I hear you saying that you're right and I'm wrong....."
If someone is seeking to understand, by all means, we can chat all day about our differing opinions....if not, I WILL NOT go there. At this point you have 2 choices depending on what's happening inside of you: Stay, and seek to understand their perspective (if you do a REALLY good job at this they could deescalate and may even become willing and ready to seek to understand YOUR perspective) OR walk away. Excusing yourself might be a good option if you're finding yourself boiling inside with defensiveness and superiority....really wanting to teach THAT STUPID JERK A LESSON!!!! Breathe, friend. Breathe.
2. Be clear about what's NOT OK before you walk in the door. Bullying and disrespect are not OK...even if it's bullying or disrespecting someone who's not in the room.
I had a client this week say, "You know, I usually ignore my in-laws' racist and sexist comments, but my kids are getting old enough to understand...." Sound familiar? So, what's your plan?
I know people don't want to "fight in front of the kids", but I think we get confused about the difference between fighting and drawing boundaries.
Engaging in conflicts that involve name-calling and yelling? NO! I don't want that for my kids.
CLEARLY understanding how to draw clear, firm, yet gentle boundaries with ANYONE...even loved ones... is something I do want for my kids.
But here's the problem I see. MANY people are so overly concerned with being nice and keeping the peace that they perceive drawing boundaries as MEAN. They see drawing boundaries as bullying.
We HAVE TO GET CLEAR on the difference. The difference is the intent.
Bullying comes from a place of superiority: I'm better than you.
Boundaries come from a place of equality: We are equal, and your behavior is NOT OK.
Ignoring disrespect to avoid a conflict with another person doesn't make the conflict disappear...it invites the conflict inside of you. Who goes home with all the discomfort? YOU. Who goes home having imaginary conversations blasting that other person with your perfect imaginary comebacks? YOU.
Ignoring disrespect is disrespectful to yourself. It's also disrespectful to the relationship as you're inviting resentment into the relationship that the other person didn't ask for.
Put words around what you're not ok with BEFORE you walk in the door and keep your responses 10 words or LESS.
3. Don't EXPLAIN your boundary. Boundaries are simply expressing what you are not ok with. DO NOT get roped into explaining them. Boundaries DO NOT require explanation!
Boundary = "Hey, Uncle Frank, talking about Muslims like that is not ok with me."
An explanation FEEDS the bully, it invites him into an argument. Explanations are arguable statements. Boundaries are inarguable statements. Just put your boundary on repeat.
Boundary on repeat = "Talking about Muslims like that is not ok."
4. Pretend you're British or an alien - Wha?! Stick with me on this one. If you were from another country or planet... PERHAPS you could behave more like an anthropologist at Thanksgiving....an outsider, looking in...studying these people, trying to figure out what the frap they're all thinking and WHY. You could seek to understand them and observe without taking any of it personally. If someone says something you REALLY disagree with, if you're from another planet, you get to think something like, "Huh, that's SO interesting. Just fascinating," instead of "CHEESE AND RICE, what a moron!!!!" and reaching for your 12th glass of wine.
I love you all...and it is my beliefs that we're all just doing our best with what we have and that growth and change is possible, that will get me through these 2016 Holidays.
Happy Thanksgiving, America!
P.S. It's the very best time of year to join my 8-week online course for couples, the Love, Sex, Kids Course (no kids required). You get the $700 discount, and the "clock" doesn't start on the training until Jan 1.
This means you can "stock up" now, enjoy the training at your leisure, and you don't have to start until 2017.
The discount code is only valid until Black Friday and is available to those on my Newsletter List. Sign up here, you can unsubscribe at any time.