Planning on going home for the holidays? Oh joy…family, food, and sometimes - fights. This Thanksgiving, while gathered together, many of us will need to navigate delicate topics (i.e. the recent election). And, although, I hope all of you are at a place where you can be thankful for what you have, I realize some of you may not. For those not in a place of thanks, I wish you well.
As a private mediator, I work with people in conflict and help them communicate so they can resolve differences privately, efficiently, and amicably. I believe that even the most contentious people can achieve civil discourse if they practice positive communication techniques. If you are spending time with others this Thanksgiving, here are some tips on how to communicate effectively.
- Navigate issues calmly and productively.
- Listen. Actively listen. Don’t interrupt someone who is speaking.
- Be reflective. Restate what you hear to make sure you understand it correctly.
- Be polite. Don’t name call or degrade others.
- Express feelings and emotions and take ownership of them.
- Seek commonality. Spending time with family/friends may be a unifier.
- Don’t speak in absolutes (avoid everyone, no one, always, and never).
- Be open-minded. Leave the past in the past where it belongs. Last year’s Thanksgiving doesn’t direct this year’s Thanksgiving. Give people a chance to be different.