top of page

Tips for handling difficult conversations this holiday season

Updated: Oct 6, 2020

The holidays are a truly magical time of the year. And with so many warm and fuzzy feelings going around, when difficult situations come up, it can feel like the Grinch just came in and canceled the holidays. It can also be a time when we make excuses for someone's behavior, explain away the hurtful words that someone says, and simply ignore negative topics, behaviors, and statements. In a previous post, we discussed the importance of speaking up for yourself and for those not in the room and this serves as a continuation to that conversation.

Here are a few tips on how you can handle difficult conversations this holiday season.

1. Think of a phrase or one-word statement to get yourself into the conversation.

Recently while at a family function, a complex topic came up. It was clear that many sitting around the dining room table held an opposing view from my own. I wanted to speak up, to add a different perspective, and maybe, just maybe, help others view this topic in a new light. It can be difficult to insert yourself into a conversation when everyone else is cheerleading one another on. Come up with a phrase or on-word statement that can help you indicate that you'd like to join in on the conversation. This can be something like, "that's really interesting...", "where did you hear that?", "Actually...", "From my perspective...". Pick something that feels natural to you and give it a try the next time you want to make sure you're included in the conversation.

2. Have a buddy.

Having a buddy who can help during difficult conversations can make it easier to have them in the first place. Knowing that at least one other person in the room will support you can make a HUGE difference when it comes to speaking up. Make sure to discuss the buddy system and what that means for each of you. For me and my husband, we know that for certain topics, we each will lend an extra voice, and support the other, even if behind closed doors we have slightly varying opinions.

3. Have a ragekeeper.

This goes hand and hand with having a buddy. A ragekeeper is someone who can give you a small signal to let you know that you're ragemonster is showing. If you're anything like us, there are probably a few topics that you are passionate about and passion can so quickly turn to rage. When we've entered rage mode, we're not doing ourselves or anyone else for that matter, any good. My buddy, who is also my husband, will place his hand on my knee. It's a discreet way to let me know that my ragemonster is showing and that I need to take a breath.

4. Practice, practice, practice.

When we're with family and close friends we can often predict topics of conversations, we can envision their behaviors, and we have the knowledge of previous encounters to help us anticipate what may happen. Before you head into a social setting, practice how you will speak up for yourself and others. Practice what you will say and do while you're in the car driving, practice in the mirror as you get ready for the day, practice, practice, practice.

We can't anticipate everything that will happen this holiday season, but if you're ready to speak up for yourself and others, you may just get the opportunity to share your thoughts, change some opinions, and add a new perspective.

If you need some words of encouragement - we're here for you! Follow us on social media @definethelinecomic, DM us, or email us at

Keep speaking up, defining your line, and sparking change.

Your nerdy HR friends,

The Define the Line Team

bottom of page