Many of us attend holiday office parties and travel to family gatherings at festive times of the year. It’s not always a pleasant experience! Social pressures and office politics, meeting new people, being introduced to strangers you have little or nothing in common with, having your fill of family arguments, tolerating “your crazy uncle” who’s been drinking too much, and a myriad of other things can elevate blood pressure levels, tie stomachs in knots, and sometimes make you wish you’d stayed at home! UGH! So then, here are 5 tips to assist in surviving the season with a smile on your face, and a song in your heart:
1. Respond Instead of React
We all have internal “buttons” that others “push” so that we react in predictable ways – usually negative ways. Psychologists call this ‘transference’ and ‘counter-transference’ as a means of explaining how we trigger others’ emotional baggage or become emotionally triggered by someone else. If you feel your blood pressure rising from something being said by another guest or participant, take a deep breath and relax a moment. Use this time to formulate a thoughtful response that does not escalate the conversation. Example: Someone says they’re excited about a certain political person assuming a new office early next year – and you supported the losing candidate in that particular race. Instead of reacting in a challenging way, simply breathe in, smile, and respond with something like, “Yes, it will really be interesting to see what happens once he/she gets into office.”
2. Think Strategically
Before you utter a word, take a moment to ask yourself about potential implications – especially in response to an employer, supervisor, or the colleague who wants to undermine your reputation at work. Then respond in a way that is without any emotional charge. Example: The boss says, “Well, you’ve managed to get through the quarter without incident.” You may want to say, “No thanks to you!” But instead, you reply, matter-of-factly, “It’s nice of you to notice! Let’s get some eggnog.”
3. Be Interested In Others
An age old adage implores us to be more interested in others than interesting to others – meaning to check our ego at the door of most any conversation. Another wise saying asserts, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Even if you don’t have much in common with someone, stay interested and focused when they speak. Pretend you’re a reporter who’s looking for a good story angle, and ask good open-ended (and non-attacking) questions about whatever they’re saying.
4. Ask for Support and Feedback
If you have an idea for a new product, service, career move or personal goal to which you aspire, instead of talking endlessly about it – simply offer an outline of your notion, and ask other for their input and ideas. You may be surprised to learn how many others truly want to see you succeed, and will offer their best thinking if asked to do so. By the way, when someone scoffs or seeks to pour cold water on your idea, refer back to numbers 1 & 2 above!
5. Don’t Over-Indulge
People sometimes drink or eat far too much at holiday gatherings. Virtually no one likes an overly intoxicated guest at home or office – regardless of how much fun they may be to watch for awhile! Also, the more you eat at holiday gatherings, the more baggage you’ll be carrying into the new year ahead… Believe me, I know!