Holiday get-togethers are just around the corner and already I’ve heard people talking about the stress they anticipate because ‘so-and-so’ will be there. Don’t worry, I’m not going to name names here, though I imagine a name or two will come to your mind.
In some cases, so-and-so is an angry and negative person, or the manipulative type that stirs the pot through gossip. Some so-and-sos say they’ll be there, but then don’t show up; others make theatrical entrances.
Then there are the so-and-sos who arrive very early or very late, who refuse to participate, or who swear like sailors in front of little kids. And don’t forget the so-and-sos who hog the conversation, who get drunk or high, who repeat confidences on social media, who text the entire time, who aren’t speaking to half the family, who…..and the list goes on.
So how do you manage the holidays when dealing with so-and-so? Here are 10 tips to guide you in making get-togethers less stressful:
1. Avoid knee-jerk-reacting to what so-and-so says or does. Take a moment to think and decide how you can best respond.
2. Avoid getting back at him/her through sneaky means, as that’s being passive-aggressive.
The mature thing to do is speak directly with him/her and try to find win/win solutions. Don’t ‘triangle’ another person in if s/he is not part of the problem or solution. When someone tries to triangle you in, just say, “That doesn’t involve me.”
3. When addressing an issue, it’s important to start your sentences with “I …… (think, feel, want, need)” rather than “You…” because the first is respectful and the latter is bossy.
4. Avoid gossip by telling the one gossiping you aren’t comfortable talking about people behind their backs.
5. Minimize the time you spend around so-and-so by walking away (or asking them to leave).
6. Start and end your party at the time you set.
7. Include them in conversation.
Listen and ask questions to better understand their view.
8. When a discussion becomes heated, say, “How about if we agree to disagree?” then change the subject.
9. Manage anxiety by taking a walk or breathing deeply. If it’s too much, it’s okay to leave.
10. Decline the invitation if the toxicity threatens your wellbeing.
Finally, if you recognized yourself as a so-and-so, try following the Golden Rule and treat others like you’d like to be treated, with respect and kindness.
Stockton is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and owner of Inner Peace Coaching & Counseling located at 4030 Mount Carmel Tobasco Road-Suite 307A, in Cincinnati. For more information, please call 513-201-5949 or visit https://www.lindastockton.com.