You’re about to celebrate Thanksgiving (for those blog readers in the US). That means you may be in conversation with your extended family for several days.
Some potential landmines: You notice that someone else (not you) is wearing a family heirloom you thought you were getting. You have a political divide at the table as deep as the turkey breast is dry. Your second cousin asks you for the fifth year why you aren’t married.
Here’s your Speak For Yourself® Thanksgiving Communication Playbook!
- Know the score. You know I preach that you must know the background of your audience BEFORE you get on stage, or do your pitch, or have your strategy meeting. Why is Family Time any different? Figure out ahead of time what the tough subjects might be, who will be at the event(s), what’s the pulse of the group.
- Don’t engage. That’s right. DON’T engage. Read #1. IF there are issues, and you cannot solve them, then don’t get involved. (I’ll try to adhere to this.)
- Listen. Always a winner! In business and in your personal life, listen more than you talk. (I’ll try to adhere to this…) Information talks, and wisdom listens.
- Ask questions. Going along with #3, the way you will strengthen your listening skills is to ask questions and really hear what your family members are saying. Let them do the talking.
- Empower others. Even when you want to kill that second cousin for commenting once again on your marital status, can you find something nice to say about them? You like their watch. You think they did a good job on the pecan pie. You love their kid. Find something to compliment! This works. It’s only manipulative if you’re lying. So don’t lie. But still find something to praise about the other.
- Drink scotch. Enough said. (But then don’t drive.)
- Remember your own strengths. Give yourself a break. My mom, of blessed memory, always said, “Karen, know who you are and where you come from”. Enter into these gatherings knowing your own good stuff. That positive self-awareness is the perfect antidote for snarky crazy stuff.
Happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for you.
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Karen Cortell Reisman, MS, Executive Communication Author & Speaker