Connect with Loved Ones over the Holidays by Trying This

It’s time for the family gatherings again. You know the ones I am referring to: where people cluster in their usual groups, talking about the weather, travel hiccups, politics; where people cluster around the food taking bites in short and informational filled conversations; where someone introduces a topic they know will fuel the flames of emotional reaction. Yes…those dynamics.


This year you can come to a family celebration prepared to add a dollop of meaningful connection. Bring a series of questions with which you can connect more personally with those you engage in conversation.


Start by asking someone to share something significant that has positively impacted them this year. Listen as they share that event or experience with you. Then follow up by asking them either: how this significant impact they experienced benefited them or ask them how this significant impact made them feel.  And again, just listen. When you do, you will find that they will share with you a value of theirs that is important to the core of who they are. This will connect you to them in a very personal way that small talk cannot.


I find that asking questions like these, at the end of the year, to be a wonderful icebreaker and connector with friends and family.


Let me know how the outcome of having this conversation at your family gathering. I would love to hear your comments.


Leave a comment


  1. That could happen if you are not prepared for the Trump “issue.” I suggest prepare for this and other potentially charged subjects in advance. Here are 4 tips to use:
    1 If you are hosting the holiday celebration, decide, in advance, if and how politics can be initiated and conducted. Determine, in advance, how you will respond to potential issues: escalating voices or tempers, interruptions or name calling and other possible off putting remarks. As the host, you can and should bring the conversation back to its base line or end the conversation if warranted. Prepare in advance.
    2 If you are a guest and hear the conversation of “Trump” initiated, know in advance how you want to engage in the conversation in an emotionally neutral manner. This is not a setting to have emotionally charged opinions flying around.
    3 If emotions begin to escalate, as family member, you can ask the host to change the topic and to ask that this conversation be continued at another time by those who want to continue the conversation.
    4 Use a talking stick. Whoever holds the stick is the speaker. This person speaks without interruption. When the speaker is finished speaking, the stick can be passed back to the host who can hand it to the next person who wishes to speak or the stick can be placed in a neutral spot, where all can see it, for the next speaker to pick up and hold until they are done speaking.

  2. Someone will mention Trump and the who thing will deteriorate from there.


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