Lesson On Social Skills?

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During the holiday gatherings, one of the stressors interacting with others is on awkward subjects. That could include jobs or economy if you were recently laid off, relationship if you broke up with your significant other or have remained single for awhile, religion or politics if you felt like the black sheep of the family.

The questioners are usually well intentioned. And the topics themselves are benign. Trouble is that as a receiver how we  react can make a dig difference. Some may attribute social skills as the key to success in these scenarios. But there is usually an emotional element that serves as an overarching driver of our reaction. Commonly known as the hot-button issues.

In response, one possibility is to deflect the question and turn it into something that is more palatable. Politician does it all the time. How good? That’s a different question. One method I have tried with some success is to focus my attention on the others. So if the question is: does the inflation make retirement living difficult? I would reply,  “sure, doesn’t it affect everything? How about you?”

And be sure to remember the emotional element.  Instead of being snarky, I try to establish a genuine emotional connection with the questioner, seeking to understand their point of view. On certain topics I would have to take a pause just to let my blood pressure settles first. But with preparation and practice, it is manageable.

Any tips you would share on handling those awkward moments?

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