|If you are spending time with family and friends this holiday season, you may be feeling apprehensive about the amount of socializing you are about to engage in, especially if you have many events planned. It can be overwhelming to receive multiple invites for family dinners, work parties, and gatherings with friends, so it can help to feel more prepared with effective ways to communicate with others.
Be sure to also check out the other articles on the blog that cover being prepared for savvy holiday shopping and practical tips for dealing with holiday stress.
3 Effective Communication Tips for the Holiday Season
Try out these three communication tips at your next holiday gathering for more effective ways of chatting with loved ones or new friends.
1. Listen to Hear.
You may have heard the saying "listen to hear, rather than reply" which essentially is a way of describing non-defensive communication. This active listening skill is often more present in parents who may be more patient in trying to understand their children, but it can be important to maintain this stance of listening in any 2-way communication encounter.
If we consider a possible example over the holidays, imagine that are spending time with family members whom you have not seen for quite some time, or perhaps new family members such as spouses or friends of the family. You may have a lot that to share about the previous year including your career promotion or perhaps the fantastic trips you took around the world.
Instead of dominating the conversation with, open with a question or simply listen to their words. Rather than interrupting if you notice something you can share, simply listen and give them space to share. This can show a lot of respect for the speaker and create a sense of trust with this other person.
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
Instead of dominating the conversation with, open with a question or simply listen to their words. Rather than interrupting the flow of conversation when you notice something you can contribute, simply listen and give them space to share. This can show a lot of respect for the speaker and create a sense of trust within the interaction.
Listening with the intent to truly hear the other person can help to put you in a non-defensive listening position to have more effective communication at your next holiday gathering.
Read: The Gottman Institute: How to Listen Without Getting Defensive
2. Silence is Okay.
In a society that is built around entertainment through constant access to social media, videos, games, and the ability to interact with others from around the world, silence can be an uncomfortable feeling. Ask yourself.. how do you feel when everything is silent? If the answer is anything but 'peaceful' this next tip might be tough but also super helpful for improving your communication style.
Allowing moments of silence within a conversation can be beneficial for both individuals in a conversation to:
"Gifts of time and love are surely the basic ingredients of a truly merry Christmas." ~ Peg Bracken
How do you personally feel about allowing silence during a holiday conversation? It can be important to remember that it can take time to practice taking a moment like this, and that the silence can often seem longer than it actually is. You may notice that another person jumps into the conversation to soothe their own discomfort, and that's totally okay.
Share: If you try out introducing silence in your holiday conversations, share your results in the comments below! How did this feel? Was it effective?
3. Practice Empathy.
The holidays can be a tough time of year since gathering with friends and family can also highlight the individuals who are missing around the table following a death or even family rupture. Recognizing that family gatherings can be a source of joy and happiness but also sadness and sorrow for some can be displayed through the use of empathy.
Brené Brown shares about the difference between empathy and sympathy in this video:
Empathy can be considered as "feeling with people" and is displaying an understanding of another persons pain without sharing your own judgement or opinion. Displaying empathy at your next holiday gathering can increase the connection and trust family members have with you, and can lift a lot of the heaviness from the loss or pain they may be feeling.
Download: List of Core Emotions for Displaying Empathy
I hope these three communication tips of listening, allowing silence, and providing empathy at your next holiday gathering will be helpful for providing better communication between you and your loved ones so you can truly enjoy the magic and joy of the holiday season (not to mention eat lots of yummy holiday dishes).
Best wishes for the holidays!
Other resources to get prepared for the holidays:
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