VIDEO: Holiday Dinner Survival Tips


As someone who helps my clients with communication, many times with very toxic and dysfunctional people, I get a lot of calls this time of year.

This is the time of year that we all sit down at holidays dinners, we’re ready to battle, so to speak and nerves are exposed. So I get a lot of calls of how to manage these waters, how to make our way through it.

Just about everybody no matter how healthy your family is, there’s one or two people who are difficult to deal with, so I want to talk about the three “Don’ts”–three things not to do in order to have a nicer, more peaceful holiday dinner, and so you don’t set of these landminds that may be around you with some of these difficult personalities.

The first thing is: Don’t take anything personally. You may have heard this before, maybe in The Four Agreements, I’ll put a link here to so you can check it out. The thing is, for some of your relatives, you’ve been frozen in time. In their mind, you’re still 5 years old or 14 years old, and they have this opinion of you that is very, very set. So when you have new information, they don’t really take it in, they don’t really believe you.

Now, to turn this around for a second, I have a question for you: What could one of your relatives (pick one) say or do that would significantly change your opinion of them? Probably nothing, right? Unless they showed up high on heroine and threw up on the table, you would probably have the same opinion of them. Same thing for them. Let them have their opinion. Don’t take it personally.

Second, don’t ask or answer “why” questions. This may sound strange, but here’s something I know after years of experience, why or why not questions make people defensive, it’s very sensitive, so when people already kind of ready for battle, if you will, that extra little factor can set somebody off. The other thing is, in answering why questions, if you are explaining, you are losing.

For example, somebody throws a question at you like “Why the hell did you get re-married?” You can ask with curiosity, not sarcasm, “well, how do you mean?”  You can answer a question, with a question. There’s no reason you have to be explaining things, so keep that in mind.

The third thing is: don’t engage. So when you’re not in agreement with someone, people are going to be talking about politics, sensitive family issues, etc. You don’t have to engage with them – you can use phrases like “I get that” or “I hear you” – it doesn’t mean you’re agreeing with them. You’re still being honest and true to yourself that you listened to the person and you understood their point, you don’t have to agree or disagree. You don’t have to get in this battle of who’s right. You don’t have to keep people from being right – let them be right if they want to, and you don’t have to hang onto your thing of your having to be right, okay? So let go of that.

So those are the three: don’t take it personally, don’t ask or answer why or why not questions, and don’t engage.

Those are my three “don’ts” to have a happy holiday season, and if you are looking to let go of the things that have been weighing you down, and you want to truly live, give me a call, totally free of charge to have a chat, we’ll just have a casual conversation and see if we’re a fit for working together.

Happy Holidays.

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About Paul Strobl Paul Strobl, MBA, CPC

Paul Strobl, CPC, is a Master Life Coach and mentor for new coaches launching their practices. Originally from Houston, Texas, he has been location independent for over a decade. He currently resides in Plovdiv, Bulgaria with his wife, 7-year-old stepson and his rescue dog from Argentina.