We Are Family: Strategies For Surviving Your Family Gatherings – Part 2

This is part 2 of  2.  You can read part 1 here.

So you’ve prepared for the gathering.  You’re there.

During Your Gathering

It’s time to be social with others around you:

  • Connect again with people. We enjoy people because we enjoy how we feel when we are with them.  Find or renew your enjoyable connections.
  • It’s about them, not about you. People like to talk about themselves, so ask them, and let them talk.
    • You: “Uncle Fester, I remember you telling me stories when I was little, about your life growing up in Arachniphobiville. But I forgot some details… what was the best part?
    • Him: “Yes, I did enjoy sharing those stories with you. Well, the best part was our annual Spider Web Rope Pulling Contest…did I tell you I won it in 8th grade?  Here’s how it happened…”
  • Let others shine: enjoy helping someone else have enjoyment in the moment.

Sometimes things can go wrong, and sometimes you want to keep things going well:

  • It’s okay to say “no”. Be sincere if you need to not agree with others.  It may be better to be brief.. curt… and not explain your position or thoughts.
  • Situational Humbleness: When you are going to say something that might cause a negative reaction, you can start off with “I could be wrong, but…
  • Trapped in a conversation? Find a way to enjoy it, even if you’re counting how many words they use in a sentence, or noticing the style of clothes of people in the room to avoid boredom or frustration. Ask questions that YOU want to ask, even if not what is expected.
    • Trapper: “So my kid is now learning to play piano… so cute… and my grandkids are… well… let me tell you…”
    • You (trappee): “Hey, did you know I was thinking of traveling to Europe next year? Do you know a nice
      phone app for currency exchange rates that uses geo-location?  Maybe we can go over here and ask Aunt Mabel…

There are other tactics to use in your strategy:

  • Everyone like sincere praise. Praise & apologies are more useful than negative comments.   So use your time figuring out how to find the positive in any random person or situation.
    • You (praiser): “Aunt Mabel, you must have developed a lot of patience to be able to wait so long when your hair is frosted blue.
    • Her (praisee): “Yes! I always bring my knitting. Let me show you my latest project.

Afterwards and Evermore

After the gathering is over:

  • Focus on positive interactions that happened.  It’s easy and perhaps natural to focus on what went wrong in any situation. Yet, especially after an emotional experience, you owe it to yourself to think about what went right.  It could be as simple as these observations:
    • you planned
    • you were aware of your own plans and possible strategies at some point during the event
    • you are now able to learn from what happened, to use at a future gathering

The theme is to focus on future possibilities for interaction, either for continuing the positive bonds, or to perhaps scheme to be ready to deal with the next time with a different position or allies.  One technique to build for the next time is to continue to “be with” people, whether in person or with communication.  Some categories to interact are:

  • online & electronic – email, messages, online social networking, phone, letters, etc.
  • offline – one on one
  • gatherings – small or large

Our memories are strongest after any event. The first few minutes and hours will naturally be filled with the memories and emotions swirling around, perhaps looking how to be merged into your view of your life, and of the world.

After a day or a week, the other activities in your life will create new, fresh memories and emotions. The positive and negative collection from the family gathering will assume it’s place in your long-term – and perhaps imperfect – memory.

If this gathering isn’t likely to happen again, then you’re done.  No gathering ever repeats itself exactly (except in movies).  Congratulate yourself on getting through the time!

About Paul Worsham