MANAGING TO BE CONFLICT FREE DURING THE HOLIDAYS appears to be more difficult this year than it typically is…because? Whether it’s real or an issue exaggerated in the 24 hour press cycle, more and more individuals are in conflict mode around politics and values — and as a result, in interactions with family, friends, and co-workers.

    Consequently gatherings at Thanksgiving, around Christmas, Hanukkah and the New Year become a challenge to many people. In therapy sessions clients ask for ideas of WHAT TO DO other than stay home to avoid a truly unhappy interaction with a difficult relative at a holiday dinner or a challenging individual in a social or office holiday gathering.

    The best base line advice:


    –Don’t expect to bridge long standing differences or conflicts.

    –Try not to invest in “changing” the  mind of someone you disagree with.

    –Don’t have too many drinks if alcohol in any way loosens your intent to keep things calm.

    –Be willing to walk away by saying you’re getting more food, going to the bathroom, or any OTHER reason you might disengage.

    –Listen more than you talk

    –Neutralize conversations that start to escalate with a few standard sentences like these –keep in mind these are “techniques” vs things you actually believe…..

         –“You might be right about that”

         –‘Tell me more about that”

    If the person just wants to argue with you, these two sentences are “show stoppers.”

    REMEMBER your goal is to reduce tension; to remain calm; to end the conversation, the dinner or event with no regrets about something you said/did.

    AND REMEMBER that once you step into the conflict with the desire to WIN, it’s a bit like falling down the rabbit hole! You truly can’t win IF THAT IS THE GOAL.  And if you have the thought that “I KNOW I’M RIGHT” YOU ARE IN TROUBLE.

    CONFLICT is not a negative when it’s resolved. Conflict RESOLUTION enhances relationships and understanding of whatever issue is on the table. But much of the time, we wade into conflict to win vs to resolve. Therein lies the problem, the tension, the conversation that becomes an argument MINUS resolution.

    Finally consider this. If you manage to keep UNRESOLVED conflict out of your interactions, the holidays and the NEW YEAR will be far more likely to be less stressful. And if you want to learn more about conflict resolution and lowering stress, try my book YOUR PERSONAL STRESS ANALYSIS. And have a good holiday.