Think about the comments, actions or behaviours that upset and angered you. It’s probably more or less the same thing they say or do every time. How do you usually respond? How can you change your response to diffuse the conflict before it flares up?
Here are some questions to ask yourself
- Does it really matter? Is it really important that you are right and show that they are wrong? Are you responding just to be right? What do you lose if you refuse to be drawn into the argument and move away instead?
- Is there a real issue being discussed, or are they just being difficult? What does it matter if they maintain their own opinion (no matter how wrong their opinion may be)?
- Are you likely to change their view about the issue? If not, what is the point in arguing? Why not just say “ok, thanks for that” or “I see what you are saying.” You don’t need to agree with them, just acknowledge what they’ve said and change the topic.
- Is the only real issue their personality? You can’t change that, so don’t waste your time trying.
- Are they only expressing their opinion about you, your behaviour or your personality? You probably can’t change that either, so don’t waste your time trying.
- Have you already given them an answer and there is nothing more to add? If so, there is no point repeating yourself. Acknowledge what they have said and move on to another topic.
How to defuse the conflict
Can you identify the key to the conflict?
Once you’ve worked out the kernel of the conflict, ask yourself does it really matter? How important is it to be right or to win the fight? Is it more or less important than getting through the day without an argument?
What is the other person likely to say to trigger the dispute? It’s probably more or less the same thing they say every time. How do you usually respond? How can you change your response to diffuse the conflict before it flares up?
Write out your new response and practice saying them out loud. Ask a friend or trusted loved one to help you practice. The more you get used to saying these new answers out loud, the easier it will be to say them “in real life”.
Once you identify the root cause of your Christmas Conflict and practice your new planned responses, you will find that others will also change the way they respond and react, making it much easier to make it through the festive season.
Wishing you a Merry, no-conflict, Christmas.