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Diffusing Family Feuds This Christmas

Author, Ron McMillan shares five tips for diffusing family feuds this holiday season.


Crucial Confrontations: Tips to Diffuse Family Feuds

• Work on me first. The biggest reason conversations end in a blow up is due to lack of respect. To help soften judgments, ask yourself, “Why would a reasonable, rational and decent person do what they’re doing?” For example, do you see your Uncle Fester with a poor driving record as criminally irresponsible or as harried and in need of help? How you see him will determine how you treat him.

• Make it safe. When confronting bad behavior, don’t start by diving into the issue. Instead, help the other person know you care about his or her interests. For example, when approaching Uncle Fester who’s coming down with the flu and kissing everyone he greets, begin with, “Uncle Fester, it wouldn’t be a holiday if I didn’t get one of your hugs. I’m glad you’re so affectionate and warm to all of us, but . . . .”

• Just the facts. When you dive into the issue, strip out accusatory, judgmental and inflammatory language. Start with facts. “Uncle Fester, I notice you are sick. And I noticed you’ve been dipping your chips in the bowl after biting half off . . . .”

• Tentatively share concerns. Having laid out the facts, tell the person why you’re concerned, but don’t do it as an accusation—share it as an opinion. “My concern is that with all of us in such close proximity, we’re all going to come down with the flu. I know you don’t want that either.”

• Invite dialogue. After sharing your concern, encourage the other person to share his—even if he disagrees with you. One of the best ways to persuade others is to listen to them. “So Uncle Fester, is there a way we can get your warmth and love without getting more than you mean to give? Or am I seeing this wrong?”


Ron McMillan, co-authored the New York Times bestselling books: Crucial Conversations, Crucial Confrontations, and Influencer.

For more information about these books you can visit www.vitalsmarts.com.

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