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Tips for Making the Most of Holiday Dinners

Watch out for your own reaction

We are habituated to certain responses that may not take the conversation where we want it to go.  Be on the lookout for your typical reaction and see if you can choose a different one. Becoming responsible for your reactions, as opposed to being run by them, is the first step in building confidence the conversation will go the way you want it to go. 

Listen for who they are and what matters to them as opposed to what you agree with

Focusing on the issue may take attention from what matters most—the relationship.  Listen for what is important to the person, or why they care. This may reveal an entirely new way to orient to the conversation. Organizing around the purpose, or why they care about the issue fosters a shared understanding instead of deepening opposing views.

Be sensitive to the power gradient

Typically mom and dad are considered at the top of the power gradient. Conversations may be one way, and limited in scope. Parents are encouraged to listen more, ask questions that reveal why they care about the topic or issue, and explore the intended outcome they would like to produce. At some point our children become adults. In that moment there is a paradigm shift that gives them responsibility for their own choices.

Tell them what you appreciate about them

The start of the meal is a great time to go around the table and tell the person to your left what you appreciate about them!  Acknowledging others for who they are for you is a powerful way to let them know you care.

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