A Guide to Surviving the Holidays

The holidays are here! Effective communication shouldn’t disappear just because family is near. Turn to these tips to survive the days, when your loved ones may tweak you in so many ways:


Tip #1: Control the controllables.

Go into your holiday travels with a “let-it-go” mantra. You can’t control traffic, reckless drivers and misfit shoppers. You can’t control the AUX cord every minute of the trip. You CAN control your attitude. Use a mantra to speed your way through the stress zones. Here are a few we like:

Control the controllables

Tip #2: Avoid confrontation at the dinner table.

Sure, it may be tempting to indulge in controversial topics and politics along with the turkey and stuffing. However, we think it’s best to avoid conflict and future family awkwardness. Serve up one of these phrases to avoid being sucked into a no-win conversation:


You can follow any of these with a hearty “So, how ‘bout that pumpkin pie!” Everyone can get on board with pumpkin pie.

A Guide to Surviving the Holidays

Tip #3: Listen and empathize. 

Being around family and friends you may not have seen in a while often leads to “upping” each other with stories of ‘me me me.‘ Be the adult in the conversation by tuning into your listening skills. Show them you can empathize with what OTHERS are saying instead of focusing solely on your own issues and fortunes. Find interest in their stories and make the conversation a tennis match where you lob comments back and forth. Avoid the parallel monologues and resist the urge to one-up the last story.


Tip #4: Don’t take it personally.

The holidays are a stressful time for everyone, not just you. Yes, maybe your mother-in-law drives you crazy with her need to orchestrate the entire weekend to perfection. But don’t let her get the best of you. Maybe she hates the sweater you’ve decided to wear and she doesn’t mind voicing her opinion about it. Take the criticism with a grain of salt and look for the positive moments in the weekend. Others will see through her game. Don’t give anyone the satisfaction of seeing you blowing up at the big holiday dinner. Carve the turkey, don’t be one.


Tip #5: Spread the cheer.

We all love receiving gifts during this time of year but maybe this time you should consider doing a 180. Try giving more than you receive. Sure, it may be tough picking out presents and not getting much in return, but the joy you give could potentially be a lot more gratifying. Collect the memories of the event and people, not the presents. And remember, most people really value the TIME you invest in them best of all.


Tip #6: Say thanks.

Thanksgiving should not be the only time you express how thankful you are for something or someone. This holiday season, try reminding yourself that it really is the thought that counts. It feels a whole lot better giving gifts if you get a genuine ‘thank you’ in return. And don’t blow off their compliment with a “No Problem.” Accept their thanks with a genuine “You’re welcome!”


Tip #7: Use the 4-7-8 formula.

If you’ve never heard of this trick, it may be your saving grace against stress. 4-7-8 is your new formula for instant calm. Close your mouth and inhale through your nose for four counts. Then, hold your breath for seven counts. Now, exhale through your mouth for eight counts. Repeat this cycle three more times. Relaxed, right? You can thank Andrew Weil, M.D., founder of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine for that wave of calmness you are now feeling.


All in all, these tips will make the holiday spirit extend a lot further than just around the holiday dinner table. If you’re looking to extend these soft skills and effective communication tips beyond friends and family to your team at work, turn to our Say This Not That…most of the timesoft skills mastery program that covers 14 major key elements including: choosing the best words for every encounter, listening effectively and understanding body language. Contact us for more info at 1-844-324-5427.

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