November 28th, 2013
It’s almost Thanksgiving and I’m guessing you’re expecting me to blog about gratitude, giving thanks, making a gratitude list and checking it twice. Right?
While I am a big believer in gratitude and keeping a gratitude journal, I have something else to share with you today.
Thanksgiving dinner is around the corner and many of my clients are already dreading it. It’s a national tradition that usually looks happy on TV shows, but in real life, it’s often wrought with family drama and heartache. Often one relative makes a passive-aggressive, nonetheless mean-spirited remark, and all bets are off. That one remark triggers a firestorm of pent-up emotions from a number of relatives and before you know it, you can’t wait to leave.
Another scenario goes like this: a jealous or insensitive relative targets your sensitive spot – and it feels like he’s going for the jugular – in front of everyone. You’re caught between bursting out in tears and erupting in anger. Inside you’re wishing: Can’t we all be nice to each other?
Here’s the solution – and strategy - in two parts.
Part one: First, before you arrive, resolve that you are going to radiate love.
Hurtful words and inappropriate words targeted at you are not about you. They are about the other person and his need to cut you down to feel better about himself. Have compassion for such a sad person. Treat him with the kindness you wish you were being treated with.
Imagine a boundary around you that no hurtful words can penetrate. You are safe. Whole. Loving.
Part two: here’s the script to deal with those moments. It’s essential to be prepared and know what you are going to say in advance to diffuse, shut down, and redirect the conversation.
So you’re asked a question that, in some way, is painful to you at it’s core. Or you’re asked something that simply is personal and is not up for discussion.
Here are a few suggestions:
“Thanks for asking. Could we put that on hold for now – I’m just not in a place to talk about it.”
“Thanks for asking. It really feels good that you’re concerned about me. I’d love your thoughts on another day when we have more privacy.”
Without missing a beat, follow it up with a positive:
“I’d love to hear about what’s important to you about today.”
“I’d love to hear about….”
“I was just thinking about all the Thanksgivings we’ve shared. Tell me about your favorite childhood Thanksgiving memory.”
“I can’t believe the holidays are around the corner. I’d love to hear about your holiday plans.”
Simply, redirect the conversation and ask something heartfelt, non-confrontational. Show genuine curiosity.
Or, make a toast, wishing everyone (or that person) a happy, healthy holiday. Express appreciation that you could all gather once again. And ask if anyone else would like to add a word or two.
Wishing you the happiest Thanksgiving! Enjoy! xo