Relationship coach and speaker, Val Baldwin, CPC, stopped by to give us the following insight:
"When you think of the holidays, you probably think of spending time with the family. And when you think of spending time with the family, chances are you dread the inevitable fighting. No worries. Here`s help! Here`s some phrases you can pull out when a conversation starts to get heated. They work wonders to help defuse an argument.
'I NEED YOUR HELP. CAN YOU PLEASE...' A common dilemma is what to say to family members who don`t pitch in. So, here`s a simple tip: Rather than accusing the person of being lazy or inconsiderate, ask for what you want and be specific. For example, let`s say you host a potluck Christmas Eve dinner every year and your cousin Barry always shows up empty-handed. You might say to him, 'I need your help. I want to have a bigger variety of food this year, so can you please bring that yummy pumpkin pie or the huge chocolate cake they sell at Costco?' This will give him a specific mission.
'WHAT DID YOU MEAN BY THAT?' Sometimes asking the right question is all it takes to avoid an argument. That`s because we all make assumptions about other people`s intentions. So, if you ask this question in a genuinely interested way - and not passive-aggressive, it`ll allow the other person to explain herself before you jump to conclusions. Just because your sisters says 'That isn`t the way mom makes mashed potatoes' - that doesn`t mean she`s criticizing you. Maybe she`s curious about your new recipe. So, ask them to clarify what they mean before you respond.
'I`M SORRY YOU`RE UPSET.' When you find yourself frustrated with a family member who didn`t take your advice, and now they`re upset, you might be tempted to say something like, 'That was a bad move,' or 'I told you so!' Well DON`T. Dishing out criticism won`t change a thing. However, a compassionate response, such as 'I`m sorry you`re upset' will help you both move forward, and it`s make the family get-together a much happier event.
'THANK YOU FOR YOUR OPINION. I`LL THINK ABOUT IT.' When you receive some unsolicited advice - 'You really should update your wardrobe,' or, 'You should get back together with Jason,' - Just smile ad respond with these two short sentences. Don`t get defensive or rude, the goal is to be polite and end the conversation.
'WHY DON`T WE LOOK IT UP?' Some family members like to argue about everything, including things that can be easily resolved - like the price of a new car or the name of that fancy Italian restaurant downtown. So, say this magic phrase, 'Why don`t we look it up?' - then google the info. The point isn`t so one of you can pull an 'I told you so' but so you can move on from the discussion before it turns into a fight."
Find more from Val at valbaldwin.com.