The holidays are all about family togetherness – and that’s great if you actually enjoy being around your relatives. Not everybody is so lucky.
If you’re dreading the inevitable argument over politics with your uncle or you know that your brother-in-law is going to be obnoxious, you may already be dreading the family gathering. You know from past experience that when tempers rise, the situation can get ugly – even violent.
How do you diffuse a difficult situation at a family gathering?
Ideally, the best thing you can do is simply not attend. It’s better to be “that one cousin that never shows up to anything” than end up with a criminal record for assault after losing your cool.
If, however, you find yourself in a situation where just not attending isn’t an option, try these tactics for dealing with the situation:
- Anticipate: You probably know exactly who is going to try to start trouble and how, so plan ahead. If your brother is going to make a snarky comment about you still being unemployed, for example, cheerfully reply, “Sure am! How’s work going?” By refusing to go on the defensive, you give the aggressor little to use against you.
- Redirect: If your sister says something about your weight to bait you into a fight, just smile as if you didn’t even hear her and ask if she made anything special for the holiday feast. By ignoring an obvious barb and putting the attention back on the other person, you’re essentially treating them like a mis
- Stay sober: Alcohol lowers your inhibitions, so you’re more likely to lose your cool if you’ve been drinking. Leave the spiked eggnog and wine alone for the night.
- Walk away: If you’ve had enough of the drama, simply grab your keys or call your Uber, say your good-byes to anybody who matters and skip out. It’s just that simple.
Nobody knows how to push your buttons more than family, which is why family grievances sometimes turn into all-out fights. If you end up being charged with assault or other offense after a brawl this holiday season, don’t talk to authorities about the situation until you can fully consider your defense options.