Guide to Escaping Awkward Family Situations During the Holidays

In life you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family. During holiday gatherings it’s not uncommon for different personality types to clash and create some awkward situations. To make matters worse many family members don’t have a problem discussing whatever is on their mind and sharing exactly what they think about basically anything.

thanksgiving-kitchen-disasters-turkeyWhen family holiday events have you on edge here’s how to get through the awkward situations with grace.

Use Humor to Your Advantage

There’s nothing like humor to diffuse an awkward situation. It’s the perfect way to answer an intimate or embarrassing question honestly without seemingly like you’re serious. And if a family discussion gets too heated humor can simmer things down. You’ll get a laugh and dodge an awkward situation at the same time.

Don’t Over Indulge

By this we mean in both adult beverages and information. The two can easily go hand-in-hand, which can quickly turn disastrous. When we overindulge in spirits of any sort the first thing to go is judgment. If you’re not at full mental capacity you could easily walk right into an awkward situation, have trouble getting out of one or be the one to make things awkward for everyone else.

Be especially mindful of sharing details with a family member who likes to know everyone’s business and can’t keep a secret. Before you know it others will be asking about why you got snubbed for a promotion or why things didn’t work out with your last girlfriend/boyfriend/wife/husband.

Take a Breather

In stressful situations our immediate response isn’t always best, especially when a family member is pushing our buttons. Rather than making the situation worse take a breather. That can mean taking a few seconds to put things into perspective before reacting or physically removing yourself from the situation for a few minutes. Either way you’ll be better equipped to handle things with a “relaxation response”.

This is something that Harvard Medical School has been studying at their Mind-Body Medical Institute. Dr. Herbert Benson coined the term and found that a relaxation response was a way of turning off the fight or flight instinct when we feel like we’re under pressure. Meditation and breathing techniques are two ways you can tap into the relaxation response.

Keep Your Phone Handy

Your phone can be a great way of staying out of an awkward situation that’s happening around you, as well as avoiding awkward conversations in general. If things start getting weird just get on your phone and look like you’re busy.

Use the Bathroom

Watching a movie with the family and there’s suddenly an unexpected explicit scene – excuse yourself right when it starts so you don’t have to suffer through it. Your mom and dad start bickering in front of everyone – it’s the perfect time for nature to call. The bathroom is the one place where no one will follow you, and unless you abuse this escape route it is an understandable means for putting a conversation or situation on hold.

Important Note: Don’t forget to lock the door. It’s almost always extremely awkward when someone walks in on another person in the bathroom.

Announce Your Presence When You Arrive

Rarely do we need to knock when we’re visiting our parents and other close family members, but there’s a reason it’s a good idea. At some point in life when you walk in on someone expectantly you’re going to see something you’d rather not see. After that, things could be awkward the entire holiday.

Send your family member a text or give them a call to let them know you’re almost there. When you do arrive don’t slip in quietly. Let it be known that you’ve arrived by making some noise or calling out for the person at home.

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