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Quick Guide: How can I spend time and communicate more effectively with family this holiday season?

Updated: Aug 5, 2021

When it comes to communicating with others (especially family members) we tend to become exasperated, frustrated, angry, or even emotionally shut off rather quickly during the holidays. As you prepare for the holiday season we have compiled a quick guide of hints and tips that you should keep in mind.

1. Use Empathy and Validation

Sometimes it is important to fall back to basics when we are talking to our family members especially those that like to get under our skin causing us to become upset, frustrated, and feeling like we are at the end of our rope. Empathy and validation are two key communication skills that will help keep the tension levels low, and your ability to enjoy your holidays high. These skills will also come in handy when it comes time to determine how you are going to connect this year, and what the expectations are for everyone attending.

When it comes to showing empathy and giving validation to others it is important to be actively listening, engaged in the conversation, and seeking opportunities to engage the other person positively. For a lot of us in order to feel engaged and willing to participate in a conversation with someone (especially if it is feeling like negative or repetitive topic) we need to remind ourselves that at our core we are all striving to get our needs met, and feel that we are understood. On a daily basis each of us run into moments where either ourselves or someone else will invalidate us by saying something like "At least it's not...", "It could be worse", "You shouldn't feel that way", or "I'm not having this discussion." When we hear or think these types of comments negativity, low self-worth, anger, sadness, and resentment gain room to grow in our thoughts and feelings allowing for lower frustration tolerance, agitation and irritability, and low motivation. Due to this negativity we can encounter more arguments and be less willing to hear others perspectives which can ruin a family get together.