There is nothing like the holiday season to add some pressure to our communication skills.
Volumes of people added to people we don't frequently spend a lot of time with and communication suddenly becomes more important than ever!
I asked the Team Phoenix group on Facebook what conversations they found most challenging in the holiday periods and they were quick to come back to me with a few scenarios!
So here are the scenarios they gave me, and my hints, tips advice!
Tis the season to be jolly ... I hope this helps.
How do you make small talk with the relations that you haven't seen all year, or the ones that you find a challenge to find something in common with?
Start by showing an interest in them, ask open questions about generic subjects so that they can get the conversation going.
Stay away from the contentious subjects, especially politics!
Listen to what they are telling you and use what they say as ways to interact and keep the conversation going.
If it helps do a little research beforehand. Find out a little about what people have been up to so that you can use that to ask questions or make conversation.
Handling The Negotiations
Where are we/you spending Christmas? The conversation that even the most skilled negotiators find a challenge!
This blog probably comes a little too late but there will still be some negotiations to be had.
Before coming in to the conversation:
Show that you have understood what they want
Say how you feel
Say what you want to happen
Make a recommendation for a joint solution
If you are entering into these negotiations as a couple then make sure you are both clear what you want to happen and what you are willing to negotiate on!
The above assertiveness ingredients can be really useful to help you negotiate what you want to happen over the holiday period and can be used in most conversations.
Saying ‘No’ to the Feeder
Food is social, especially at this time of year but for many people it can be a real challenge. We commit to what we want to do but we don't always have the 'buy in' from others around us.
Whilst I dont advocate excluding foods or not enjoying the season it also doesnt mean that it is a green card to go crazy and eat everything in sight. Most foods are available to us all year around so saying no is not a permanant never eat again no!
During the holidays we associate the offer of food as the offer of love and kindness because of the environment that we are in.
Saying no to food is not saying no to the kindness and love behind it.
You can acknowledge the kindness and say no.
"That is very kind of you, I am full thank you".
The same with alcohol being offered, "no thank you, do you have a soft drink"?
You don’t have to give a reason or validate your “no thank you” response. “No thank you” is a complete sentence.
If you need to you can use the assertiveness ingredients to help manage these conversations then this is another occasion they can come in very useful.
Lost in Translation
Are you speaking the same love language as the rest of your family? If you have different love languages is the meaning of your conversation getting lost in translation?
There are 5 love languages:
Acts of Service
Words of Affirmation
if you have not heard of the love languages before, then in brief (and there is a book) this is how we speak and understand how love is shown. We have a primary and secondary language, understanding what these are can improve our connections with others and our relationships.
How does this apply to Christmas?
Watch the people around you over the holiday period - How are they showing their love to others. Do they give gifts or want to spend quality time, Are the gifts they give activities to spend time together or are they gifts of monetry value? Do they show their love with acts of service, wanting to do things for you or do they show their love with words.
Once you know the love language of the closest people around you it firstly makes gift buying a lot easier (you will know for next year!) it will also help with understanding what is important to people and what their good intentions are when having conversations.
So ... on that note. I would like to wish you all a very calm and well communicated Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays if you don't celebrate. I hope that you all have a wonderful few weeks.
I will be listening to my own advice and taking some time out and I will be back in the New Year all ready to go!
I look forward to you joining me as we take 2019 by the horns and take more steps to becoming the person we want to be!
See you in the New Year!