Everyone has that one family member who thinks they can say whatever they want. When you’re already on edge from the craziness of the holidays sometimes it’s hard to know how to handle it. Sometimes it might be easier to just bite your tongue and move on, but it’s not always that easy.
I’ve heard my share of questionable comments, especially since having my son. I’m very expressive with all my emotions so I normally need to head out to holiday functions armed with a few go to responses. Sometimes people say things that are so ridiculous that I might just stare in bewilderment – there’s not much you can do to prepare for those situations.
How do you shut down a conversation you know is going to be impolite, frustrating or just plain inappropriate?
Kill them with kindness.
If I receive unwanted advice, criticism or opinions I often say thank you. In general I am not thankful, but it normally throws the person off and cuts the conversation short. As I said, my face normally tells its own story despite my best efforts to control my emotions. It’s important to muster up all your self control to keep the sarcasm out of your voice.
Focus on the food.
If there’s a conversation brewing that I know isn’t going to end well, I change the subject. I’ve always loved family gatherings because of the food and desserts. Did your Aunt Marg make the best mashed potatoes, tell her that to stop the conversation from going down a negative path.
Plan your escape.
Everyone has a limit, normally that equates to a time with my family gatherings. My husband and I always have a discussion before any party so we know when it’s time to leave. Even though I try to make the best of whatever situation I’m thrown in to, I also know that my ability to control my face has a limit too. Politely thank the host, gather your belongings and get yourself to safety before you say something back to cousins Susan’s remark on still being single.
Pro tip: Have a code word so your partner knows it’s time to leave.
Have their back.
Sometimes you might be the observer in a questionable conversation, but make sure you have the victims back. In this case politely pull the person away, even if it means getting them to help with the mountain of dishes. The number of times my brother-in-law has saved me from a conversation I don’t have to be apart of is astounding, not to mention the fact that nobody realizes what he’s doing.
Know your triggers.
If you know that someone is going to ask you when you’re having another baby, have your response ready. I get triggered with overly personal question, especially ones I don’t want to have a conversation about. Instead of telling people surprise you, think of a list of things you know will offend, or otherwise, make you angry and get ahead of it. Rehearse some generic, non-committal responses until you’re sure that your brain will just spit them out without you having to think about it.
In my head, the best solution is always to run away but you can’t normally do that as an adult. With some planning, mental fortification and willpower I’m hoping to get through the holidays with as little drama as possible.