During the busy holiday season, we let our expectations get so high. People are bound to disappoint us. They get sick. They don’t express enough gratitude. Their communication skills are lacking.

Most people listen only long enough to interrupt. It’s like listening has become a competitive sport rather than a chance to exchange ideas.

Here are some tips to make your holiday conversations as smooth as eggnog:

  1. 1.   Push the pause button.
  • If tensions are running high, count to three before you respond.  This will help you to slow down long enough to keep you from putting your foot in your mouth.
  • If you are feeling pressured to say “yes,” remember not to get caught up in someone else’s timetable.
  • Remember, things that seem really urgent are rarely important, and things that are really important are rarely urgent.
  1. 2.   Slow down, you move too fast.
  • Remember to stop multi-tasking and tune in for the important topics, even for a few seconds.  It can make people feel listened to and cared for.
  • Lower your expectations.  Some people say expectations are a premeditated resentment.
  1. 3.   Get in sync.
  • For those important conversations, tune in and sit at the same level. Look at the person you’re talking with…but don’t stare!  Try not to look like a stalker — just making relaxed eye contact.
  • Evaluate the comfort level of your conversation partner.  Some people will react to conversation topics differently according to age, gender and cultural upbringing.
  1. 4.   Stay flexible.
  • This means letting go of perfectionism. (I know, you’re not a perfectionist. You just have standards.)
  • Let someone else win once in a while. (Yes, that includes your relatives.)
  • A good conversationalist knows how to build on ideas and ask questions that keep conversations going

T. H. I. N. K. about your conversation. Is it:

  • Thoughtful? Honest? Intelligent? Necessary? Kind?

Advice about when to give advice

  • Did someone ask for advice?
  • Did someone ask you for advice?

Unclog the toxic energy drains

Some people’s energy invigorates us.  Some peoples’ energy is draining.  There are some people who you can never please. In fact, the more you try, the more difficult they become.

Call a HALT. Am I: Hungry?  Angry?  Lonely? Tired? (Or make up your own: Am I hormonal?) Getting a good meal, a good night’s sleep, or just some quiet time can change our perspective.

Once you eliminate toxic people, hang out with people that energize you. When we’re stressed, we often stop doing the things that are good for us, like exercising or listening to music. Fill your energy well with good people and good ideas. Recharge with music and reading or listening to tapes that celebrate the good in life.

Remember: Your mind is like a toddler. Whatever you feed it, it will spit back to you.