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The festive Season

Avoiding Arguments at Christmas Time

Christmas is a time for us to spend time together and cherish our loved ones. However, many of us may relate to awkward conversations and animated disagreements that tend to come up during family gatherings. We may also find ourselves spending the break with personalities we often clash with.

A new issue that faces us this Christmas, because of Covid-19 related restrictions, is that we might have to spend a lot of time feeling cooped up with the same people, with not much opportunity to get out of the house. This can make us feel even more agitated and irritated with those around us.

Here are a few tips to avoid arguments where possible and instead create a positive atmosphere which nourishes our relationships. In turn this will protect the wellbeing of ourselves and our loved ones.


Turn towards instead of away

This involves showing interest and responding with care. Responding like this creates positive feelings in the other person, strengthening your relationship with them. It can be as simple as laughing or smiling at a joke they told, or taking an interest in what they?re talking about. The important thing is to share in a moment with them.

If someone irritates us, it can be tempting to turn ourselves away from them – to stop talking to them all together or to shut them out. But turning towards them with forgiveness and understanding will help our relationship and our wellbeing in the long run.


Manage conflict constructively

Conflict is unavoidable. It?s something we all have to deal with and is a normal part of relationships. So it?s worth learning how to deal with conflict constructively. Examples include; being understanding and curious about their point of view rather than becoming judgemental or defensive; seeing the conflict as a problem to solve together rather than being at war with each other.

Assertive communication is an important part of managing conflict. This involves expressing how you feel about something, what would make you feel better and how this would benefit the other person involved.

Assertiveness is a huge topic and there are lots of different approaches to it. Try having a browse on Google or Youtube to see if there are any techniques you think would work for you.


Take a positive approach

If you have a disagreement with someone, take a positive approach in the aftermath. Respond positively and constructively if they attempt to make amends. Be willing to own your mistakes, repair the damage and show that you still care about them.


Create and share meaning

Think about what things you have in common and what you can enjoy together. This will help create a positive atmosphere and can bring you closer. It could be playing a game together, watching a film, talking about a shared hobby, or many other things.


Notice what you like about them – and tell them!

You may be able to diffuse your feelings of irritation by paying attention to someone?s positive qualities. You can then create good-feeling in the relationship by letting them know. Tell them if you thought they did really well in the game of charades, or compliment them on their choice of Christmas jumper.


Express gratitude

Conflict can sometimes arise because people feel under-appreciated, but an easy way to strengthen relationships is to tell people when we?re grateful for what we?ve received from them. We can thank the person who cooked Christmas dinner, we can say thank you for any presents or cards we received. We can even show our appreciation for someone wanting to spend the time with us.


Remember what?s important

During trying moments, remember that this is a person you care about and you want to be able to spend a pleasant Christmas with them and the rest of your family. Remember to practice gratitude for the positive things around you and recognise that it?s normal to have disagreements, even during Christmas.

By Hayley Williams

College Wellbeing Practitioner