There is a high level of joy and love that comes with the holidays, but layered on top, or underneath, or around the sides, there is usually a level of stress.
It is in times of stress that we often lose our integrity.
It is in times of stress that we lose sight of what is important to us
It is in times of stress that we fail to live out our values.
It is in times of stress that we tend to call names and criticize.
We have all encountered negative comments in the past, and so I wanted to give you some coaching and advice on how to handle whatever may come your way--either from friends, family, or a stranger.
This is about being proactive, rather than reactive.
This isn’t about starting unnecessary fights or conflicts, but about mutual respect and standing by your values.
#1 KNOW YOUR TRIGGERS AND BOUNDARIES
What are the comment, topics, themes, or subjects that upset you?
How do they get started? By whom?
What comments in the past have been made that you won’t tolerate anymore?
What boundaries do you want to set moving forward?
#2 MAKE A PLAN
Literally, plan ahead what your response will be when x, y, or z happens. Again, it is about being proactive.
Unfortunately, when our buttons are pushed, our reptilian brain wants to do the work for us and protect us. We respond to hurt, with more hurt, but that doesn’t get us anywhere.
We need to be vigilant.
Set an intention and make a plan.
When ________ makes __________ comments, I am going to say _________, and if they do it again I am going to ______________.
When my mom makes comments about my weight, I am going to say, “I understand your concern for my health, but I do not appreciate when you ask about my exercise regime or my eating habits. Can you please refrain from making those comments in the future?.” If she does it a second time, I will remind her of my request and quickly and kindly leave the room. (hang up the phone, leave the dinner table, etc…)
#2 STOP THE SILENCE
Too often when people say crappy things to us or around us, we let is slide.
We don’t address it.
We pretend that it doesn’t matter.
We decide not to rock the boat.
But, if we want things to change, we need to address it.
We need to stop the silence.
Here is the easiest way to do so.
- FACT--State what was said. Not what you interpreted it to mean, but literally word for word what was said.
- FEELING--Let the speaker know how that statement made you feel, or that you simply don’t like it and won’t tolerate it.
- REQUEST--Make a request that the person refrain from doing it again.
Here are some examples. (The last one is one that I recently made myself over email.)
Did you just call me a ________. That doesn’t work for me. Please don’t do it again.
I appreciate your concern for my love life, but I don’t appreciate when you refer to my boyfriend as a “slacker.” It makes me sad and angry. Can you refrain from making negative comments about him?
I heard from Aunt Dot that you were questioning my choice in career. She said that you said, “I wish Molly would get a real career instead of this coaching malarkey.” If you have concerns, can you please address me directly, rather than talking about it with others?
I am very open to having a respectful dialogue about this election. In the past I have been called "stupid", "naive" and that I "don't know what I am talking about" when I have engaged in a debate with you. I will not tolerate those kinds of character attacks from you, and I request that you refrain from making them.
Now there will be times when you don’t really know what someone means when they say something. This is when you need to ask questions to clarify.
In these instances it might be FACT--CLARIFICATION--FEELING--REQUEST.
If we can’t get clarification, we can still make a request.
Someone recently sent me this comment. Hate to clutter your mind with facts at this emotional time, but here.. with a link to an article.
What the hell is that supposed to mean?
I could have read into it in many different ways, but instead it was best to clarify the intent. FACT-CLARIFICATION
- When you said, “Hate to clutter your mind with facts at this emotional time” what did you mean?
Then you can follow through with your FEELING and REQUEST
- It didn’t sit well with me. If you have something else to share with me in the future, can you simply say, "I thought you might find this interesting", or "I read this and thought you might want to read it too."
#4 STAND BY YOUR BOUNDARIES
Okay, this is the hard part.
People won’t necessarily remember your request, and even if they do, their own reptilian brain might kick in and they might say something without thinking.
People might not even know that they are being mean.
Seriously, sometimes we don't.
This is when you need to stick by your plan.
This is what makes a boundary a boundary.
Are you going to leave the conversation, the room, the house?
Are you going to unfriend them on Facebook?
Are you going to hang up the phone?
Are you going to stop seeing them?
Are you going to block them from sending you emails?
You have to follow through.
They won’t know your boundaries unless you tell them and show them.
Do you have to tell them ahead of time what you plan to do? Not necessarily.
You can just follow through. If you want to tell them why you left or hung up on them , feel free, but do so when emotions are calm and you are prepared for the conversation to open up again.
I recently unfriended someone on Facebook after they failed to follow through with a request that I made that they send me a private message instead of writing accusations on my FB wall. I later sent him a message letting him know why I unfriended him. He said something about it being silly to unfriend someone over politics. I said, "I didn't unfriend you over politics. I unfriended you because you didn't respect my request." He apologized :)
Okay, one last point.
Just because they are your family, your best friend, or someone in power, doesn’t mean that you can’t set boundaries with them.
Mutual respect is one of the cornerstones of integrity and it goes both ways.
If someone isn’t respecting you and your requests, you have to respect yourself enough to let them know and stand by your boundaries.