Stressless Holiday Conversations, Pt. 2–Dealing with Difficult Relatives

Difficult people are available at any time of year, but during the holidays, we get together with more people & we have the extra stress of needing to get lots done in little time. Dealing with difficult relatives is inevitable. Here’s how to deal.

You can find the first part of this article right here.

How To Improve the Sound of Your Voice

Families can provide the most stress for people, sometimes more than the apparent stressors like giving presentations, going to the dentist, or even the fear of dying. When improving our communication skills, we must consider the situation’s anxiety level. Dealing with families during the holidays is up there with the highest stress levels.

Often anxiety levels are based on our desire to be perceived in a very positive light. We want this, especially from our families (as well as our bosses, audiences, and clients.)

how to have stress free holiday conversations

4 Definitive Techniques to Making Small Talk

Add the challenge of a very difficult relative, and things escalate quickly. You can brush it off when complete strangers say insulting or rude things to you. When Aunt Betty does it, things get deep, right? Many of us start the holidays wrong and lose sleep anticipating Aunt Betty’s annoying questions and comments.

The better way of dealing with difficult relatives

Remember that annoying relatives (mom, brother, aunt) are likely stressed out, too. Probably more than you are. Let that fill you with a bit of compassion.

Don’t react immediately, either. A pause is always much longer in your mind than it is to others. Breathe in and relax your body (Come to us for fantastic relaxation exercises if you want help.)

Repeat your relative’s message more kindly than you heard it. Your mother might use a tight, annoying voice to ask, “When are you gonna have a baby?”

You can ask, “You want us to have a baby, Mom?”

5 Steps to Eliminating Filler Words Forever

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9 Secret Steps to Influencing Others

Want to be more influential? We all want to communicate our most important messages in a way that encourages others to take action. Whether that action is voting for our candidate or picking up milk from the store, the words we use and how we speak play a huge role in getting the job done.

Diffuse difficult people by validating them

Use your full, resonant voice, and repeat her concerns immediately. It will diffuse her by validating her.

If your mother wants you to have a baby and responds affirmatively, you have choices. You can say, “We want one, too, Mom. You’ll be the first to know. We can only hope she’ll take after you.”

Or you could say, “We need $13,000 for IVF. Do you use Venmo? Paypal?”

But that’s probably not going to work. I recommend an uncomplicated approach where you say, “I understand your feelings, Mom. Can we talk about this another time when we’re alone?”

Remember that sometimes people say things not intended to hurt or insult you. Other times they may intentionally be caustic. It’s all about them. It has nothing to do with you. They have negative emotions and are attempting to lash out at you during this challenging time–the holidays.–the holidays.

How to Answer Difficult Questions Like a Genius

Choose empathy

Just smile at your wacky, weird, and stressed-out relatives.

Your relationships will get better over time if you remain calm and relaxed while dealing with difficult relatives.

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1 thought on “Stressless Holiday Conversations, Pt. 2–Dealing with Difficult Relatives”

  1. With Thanksgiving around the corner, this is exactly what I needed. I’ve been anticipating the annoying comments. Funnily enough, I resonate voice and validate the concerns of my preschool students on the verge of a meltdown. Yet, I never thought to use that same technique and apply it to certain family members. Genius! haha

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