As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation
is not to utter words, but to live by them.
John F. Kennedy
Last Thanksgiving I went to friends’ home for dessert.
John’s (names changed) parents were at the table when I arrived. I’ve known them for many years and while they’re more socially and theologically conservative than I am, we’ve had a mutual affection.
As soon as I sat down, John’s mom made a statement that centered on the two things you shouldn’t bring up at a holiday meal – religion and politics.
What she said was factually incorrect and I instantaneously became irritated.
My answer was snappish, though I pulled back (I think) in time before turning into a rude guest.
John’s mom had a sarcastic comeback and I upped it! We both knew what had happened and we backed off.
I’m embarrassed that I snapped.
I teach, write and speak about dealing with difficult people and in the heat of that moment, none of it meant anything.
I was humbly reminded that, truly, old habits die hard.
Why did I care what this woman blathered on about?
Well, she was wrong and I was “right” and here’s what went through my brain at lightning speed:
“I think you’re being stupid and therefore I’m going to fix you – at the dinner table – and I better do it quickly because I only see you once a year.”
With that kind of thinking, who’s the “stupid” one?!
Truth be told, what I’m really annoyed about is that I’m not perfect and I wasn’t the person I wanted to be.
I don’t want to be the smug guy who’s snappish with little old ladies who love Limbaugh!
Here’s the thing – if you know you’re going to be spending time over the holidays with people who can push your buttons, be mindful of who you want to be and how you want to behave.
We always have a choice.
What does it mean to have a choice?
While I’m not sure I can tell you how to ‘survive’ the holidays, I will remind you of something crucial that you mustn’t lose sight of: people are consistent in what they say and do
I can promise you that if you’re going to share Thanksgiving with people you shared it last year, their behavior will be much the same.
The most obnoxious person from last year probably will be just as obnoxious this year. Whoever fell asleep watching TV in the living room last year, most likely will fall asleep this year. And the person who bored you to tears last year will do so again Thanksgiving – unless they took a workshop from me this year!
People are consistent. Holiday celebrations take on rituals of their own, within which we each play a role.
Given that, what should you do with the relatives that drive you batty, if not to tears?
Change the way in which you deal with them because, if you don’t change, and they’re not going to change, then nothing is going to change and the 2022 holidays will again end up being from hell!
- How do they press your buttons?
- Why do they have the ability to press those buttons?
- What’s really going on with those buttons?
Once you’re aware of what they’re doing, then you can decide if you are going to allow them to upset you.
Understand that it really is a game.
Consciously or unconsciously you and the other person are doing a relationship dance.
Don’t like the dance?
Then change your steps.
For instance, if someone asks you a rude or seemingly insulting question, rather than getting angry just play dumb!
Pretend you don’t understand what they mean and ask them to explain themselves.
Are you at the table with someone who has a history of deliberately riling you up?
Laugh instead of getting annoyed. Do not give them what they want (your annoyance) and they’ll become frustrated and eventually move on.
You can make the holidays cheery and bright
miserable and bleak
The choice is YOURS!
now THAT’s the business of confidence!