Conflict Communication and the Holidays: Part II

Published on 18 December 2015 at 3:41 pm #assertivenesstraining #communicatewithimpact #communicationskills #conflictmanagement

In my last Blog I wrote about the Stages of Conflict and that Blog was meant to highlight a certain type of conflict that arises when feelings connected to earlier difficult situations are unexpressed and fester and grow.

There are obviously other kinds of conflict. Have you seen the latest issue of Vanity Fair? Wow! There's a story about two neighbouring billionaires who have been entangled in myriad lawsuits over a number of years that kicked off with a relatively easily fixable conflict.

But, oh no, they each dug their heels in and now it looks like a modern day version of Jarndyce vs Jarndyce!

But I digress; the reason I want to pinpoint the type of conflict that's generally a repeat pattern of old conflicts is of course the fact that we are rapidly approaching that time of year when families get together and old tensions spring to life.

However, I'm not just talking about what happens when these families get together; I'm also talking about the knock-on effects in the rest of people's lives. Often there's a bit of cat-kicking that happens where people take out their anxiety over the upcoming family gathering in the work-place as well as other arenas.

So let's see how you might be able to manage some of your conflict situations and improve your communication in the build-up to and over the impending holidays.

Here are my TOP TIPS for managing conflict at Christmas:

Set really clear boundaries about when you are going to arrive and when you're going to leave any family gathering.

If people are coming to you, get clear about when they are arriving and when they intend to leave.

If people are coming to you, give everyone a task so the burden doesn't fall on the same people (you!) for yet another year.

If you are going to someone else's then ask for a task or observe what might be needed and quietly get on with doing it.

Avoid getting drawn into other people's dramas. Avoid taking sides and creating sides for other people to take.

If you are celebrating the holidays with a particular family member because it might 'be their last' then do it with an open heart and good grace. Sulking and pouting because you resent being where you are serves no one and only contributes to everyone's unhappiness.

If things get really tough, go into the toilet for a silent scream - they work wonders!

Speaking of an open heart, see if you can look at other people and their aggravating behaviour with more compassion and less annoyance.

Let 'them' be right. There's no need to try to fight your corner about the best way to make dressing. If one of your relatives comments that it would be better another way, say something along the lines of, "You're probably right; I'll remember that for the next time." And then zip your lip. Letting someone be right can be a great relief because you avoid a circular argument that no one can win.

And if it's all too much, then plan a trip next year and leave the country.

Check out Impact Factory's Conflict Management, Assertiveness and Communication courses.
By Jo Ellen Grzyb, Director, Impact Factory