There is no doubt that most people dread conversing with at least one of their family members during the holidays. These awkward and triggering conversations can be relentless, and have you overthinking it for days, months or years after. ‘Tis the season to be jolly though!?!?! RIGHT?

WRONG. Conflict is a natural part of being human. And not agreeing on every topic including health, politics, education and more can be rough at times when we do not have the back bone to either deflect or stick up for ourselves. The reality is bullying typically rarely has anything to do with us, it really has to do with the mental state of the bully themselves. I try to quit taking it personally, even though some relatives love to trigger me in an unfair, rude way.

The reality is we’re not going to take it. Although Uncle Steve has a problem with my love life, it’s really none of his business. Although Aunt Carol has a problem with me not wearing leggings, it’s really none of her business. Although my mother does not like certain things I say or do, it’s none of my business. Although my father has no idea what I do for a living, it’s okay as I don’t need approval from anyone but myself.

REMEMBER, our triggers are our best TEACHERS! Learning how to respond versus react is the first cue of mental sanity. There are many ways to excuse ourselves, change the topic, or simply deflect from the conversation and pull a 180 degree flip change by putting the focus back on them. The reality is usually the person that triggers us just wants their OWN opinions to be heard, and the key is not responding with charging challenges rather give them the dignity of their own responses and opinions and moving on with our lives.

Here are verbal cues to help you coast through Christmas, making it as conflict-free as possible so you can sit back and enjoy the show.

  1. That sounds like that was really disappointing.
  2. I can only imagine how heavy that is for you.
  3. That must have been hard for you.
  4. That seems like that would have been troublesome for you.
  5. That sounds like a disturbing conflict to deal with.
  6. That is really scary news to hear.
  7. I can see how paramount that is to you.
  8. I can only picture how bad that would be, you must feel…
  9. I can tell you were not expecting to hear that news.
  10. I was also hoping for a better outcome.
  11. This is hard for me too.
  12. How do you you feel about it?
  13. So what you’re letting me know is that…
  14. What you’re saying is…
  15. Is there anything else, big or small, that I can help you with that?
  16. I would be sad about that too.
  17. I can imagine how frustrating that would be.
  18. That sounds complicated.
  19. I wish I knew how to help.
  20. Thank you for sharing that with me.
  21. Let me know if there is something more I can do to help.
  22. You sound angry about…
  23. That seems like it would be really disheartening.
  24. I can see how major this is for you.
  25. I see where you are coming from.
  26. I apologize for the inconvenience.
  27. I hope things improve soon.
  28. Alright.
  29. Absolutely.
  30. Wonderful.
  31. That’s great to hear!
  32. I see.
  33. I understand.
  34. Thank you for letting me know.
  35. I’m so sorry that happened.
  36. That’s awful.
  37. How terrible!
  38. You are right.
  39. I know exactly how that feels.
  40. Excellent stuff.
  41. I know exactly what you mean.
  42. What I’m doing right now is…
  43. How did that make you feel?
  44. Have you talked to someone about it that can help?
  45. That sounds great.
  46. That is challenging.
  47. That doesn’t seem like an easy situation.

What verbal cue is your favorite empathetic response that you’ll be using this Christmas?

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