Surviving the Negativity at Holiday Gatherings

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The house is spotless. The table is beautifully set. There is a flurry of activity in the kitchen as the holiday meal is being prepared and mouth watering aromas waft throughout the air. It sounds like the start to a perfect dinner party but for some it has all the makings of a nightmare depending on who is coming to dinner.

Don’t let your next holiday gathering be ruined by the Debbie Downers of this world. Arm yourself before hand with these simple and effective tips from professional life coach and tough love author, Paula Renaye.

• Do not say anything negative.
• Dodge, distract and detour.
• Do not talk about yourself.
• Do not share your woes.
• Do your homework and become like Teflon.

The insightful author’s message is clear – think before you speak. Avoid any topics of conversation that you know might trigger a negative response in another person. Instead, simply change the subject. Deflect the current topic when necessary. Don’t share your own woes. That will only create a more depressing, downward spiral. According to Renaye, “if you hear yourself criticizing, judging or complaining, you’re part of the problem.”

Do your homework ahead of time and have a list of “happy questions” that you can refer to. Happy questions or topics could be a recent success that someone had, an uplifting story in the news or a funny joke or story that you recently heard. Encourage others to share their funny stories. Nothing is more contagious and positive than a good laugh.

In addition to trying to steer the topic of conversation, as Renaye suggests, it is also a good idea to avoid excessive alcohol. Alcohol tends to intensify a person’s emotions. If someone is a little down to begin with, that emotion will only be magnified with the consumption of alcohol.

Overcoming negativity in yourself or others can be a challenge. Seeing the glass as “half empty” as opposed to “half full” may be a way of life for some people. The best thing to do is remain cheerful and positive. Let your enthusiasm become contagious and your next holiday gathering will be a more joyful event.

Paula Renaye is a certified professional life coach as well as a motivational speaker. Renaye is author of the multi-award-winning personal development guide, The Hardline Self Help Handbook.

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