‘Tis the Season to be Tactful

‘Tis the Season to be Tactful

By Cynthia Bryant, LICSW  

You’re attending, or maybe hosting, a holiday party or family dinner – yay! 

Or is it nay? 

Holidays, and the way we anticipate them, can be complicated. 

We may generally look forward to catching up with friends and family. And yet, the most delightful gathering can be dampened when someone behaves in a way we perceive as crude, unkind, overbearing or provocative. 

With some people, these moments can even be predictable … and that’s what can cause us to dread an event we’d otherwise anticipate with excitement. 

Is there a cousin who, perhaps, is fluent in profanity or bigotry? Does your employer’s spouse tuck a clever insult into every compliment? Are you really going to have to hear about your neighbor’s bunion surgery again, or about every one of her brilliant grandchildren? Will you get stuck listening to one more excruciating political diatribe? 

If any of this sounds familiar, consider spending a few minutes preparing before the event. Identify the usual offenders and what triggers you, and have a response ready. Through diffusion, distraction or calm diplomacy, you may be able to maintain your own sense of harmony and well-being.  Here are a few ideas: 

-Come prepared with a topic or two of your own, so that you can deftly change the subject 

-Excuse yourself, walk away and engage with someone else 

-Take a breath and smile. It will be over soon! 

-State your own perspective in a calm but assertive fashion 

-To forestall an argument, announce that you’ll agree to disagree 

-Be the adult, responding with decorum and kindness 

-Consider why the person acts this way. Can you find a way to empathize? 

By planning for “negative” social encounters, you may find that you can control your own mood, regardless of how others behave. And when you know you have this power, you’ll have nothing to dread.   

The Licensed Social Workers of CJFS provide confidential professional counseling for individuals and families of all ages. CJFS Counseling is available in person, on the phone or via video platforms such as Zoom and FaceTime, and most insurance are accepted. To learn more, contact Clinical Director Marcy Morgenbesser, marcy@cjfsbham.org or 205.879.3438