Despite our best intentions, family get-togethers all too often end in conflict, with petty disagreements making us revert to our childhood selves. By pre-empting clashes and controlling our responses in the heat of the moment, we can avoid frayed tempers and get back to giving thanks.
1. Pre-empt it.
While not desirable, conflict is an inevitable part of life and sometimes necessary for change. Prepare for it by pre-empting the areas where your views or goals differ, so that you can decide how best to tackle the situation.
2. Check your default approach.
Everyone has a preferred way of dealing with conflict: whether going all-out to win, putting your head in the sand or attempting to please everyone. By identifying your usual approach you can recognize when it’s not appropriate.
3. Identify theirs.
Think back to previous disagreements to figure out the other person’s default conflict handling style. How could you adapt your approach to make sure the conflict is a healthy, rather than toxic, one?
4. Decide what you want to achieve.
Keep the ideal outcome at the front of your mind to guide your responses so that you don’t say or do something you’ll regret. Looking at the situation from the viewpoint of an impartial third-party will keep things in perspective.
5. Identify your trigger points.
In an argument, we all have things that set our blood boiling. Keep your emotions in check by having a plan of action if someone triggers yours; “if they patronize me then I’ll take a deep breath and count to ten”.