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The Gifts that Keep on Giving – Forgiveness, Communication and Peace. Holiday Gift Giving that doesn’t cost a dime!

gift-687265_1280December has now become a month full of stress and anxiety over picking the best gift. There is no disputing that Christmas has become a commercialized holiday where the whole point appears to be finding and giving the best gift to your loved ones. I created a holiday gift list in a previous post, presenting my picks for presents to give this season to the peace-lover in your life. I also compiled a gift list this week for those who find themselves in conflict with a loved one; that wouldn’t cost you anything.

Forgiveness. The ability to forgive someone can be difficult, especially when a lot of damage and heartache has occurred. Holding on to grudges and anger can be detrimental to your health and can destroy your relationships. The holiday season is the perfect time to let go and forgive. How can you forgive?

  1. Look inward and analyze. Acknowledge your feelings and take a moment to think about what and why you are feeling the way you do.
  2. Invite a face-to-face dialogue. Invite the person to have a conversation. Then, speak to the person directly, expressing your honest feelings letting them know you want to forgive and move forward.
  3. Write a letter. I lost a family member suddenly a couple of months ago, and before their passing, I had felt a lot of anger and hurt towards him. I lost the ability to express my feelings to him verbally, so I wrote him a letter and found that filling the pages was very therapeutic and allowed me to let go of my anger and hurt. You can write a letter to someone who is still here as well; you could seal and give it to them or not, that choice would be up to you!

Communication. The gift of communication to a loved one you are in conflict could change the course of your relationship. Effective communication allows you to build rapport and trust. Defensive communication causes confusion, anger, and blame, etc. The holidays provide a wonderful opportunity to communicate with your loved ones and resolve conflicts. How can you communicate effectively?

  1. Actively listen. The point here is to speak less and listen more.
  2. Clarify. Miscommunication arises when you don’t clarify what a person says, which then causes false assumptions and confusion. An example: Aunt Mary told Aunt Penny she needed to bring another dessert for Christmas dinner. Aunt Penny agreed to bring a dessert but didn’t clarify what kind of dessert Aunt Mary already had. Christmas day arrives, and Aunt Penny arrives with homemade gingerbread cookies only to find that Aunt Mary had already made that same family recipe. An abundance of gingerbread cookies is not a huge conflict, but if Aunt Mary was hoping for variety, she might be annoyed.
  3. Practice. Good communication requires practice, so listen often, ask curious questions to show you care. This is the ultimate gift.

Peace. Merriam-Webster defines peace as, ” a state in which there is no war or fighting; an agreement to end a war; a period when there is no war or fighting.” Achieving world peace in time for Christmas seems a bit unattainable, but peace with your loved ones is something that can be achievable. How can you achieve peace this holiday season?

  1. Apologize. Say, “I’m sorry” genuinely for whatever wrongdoing you might have done.
  2. Take a time out. If two weeks is not enough time to work through a conflict and an apology just won’t be enough, speak with your opposer and suggest putting the conflict aside for the holidays.
  3. Be empathetic. Try placing yourself in the other’s shoes. A favorite quote of mine by Ian Maclaren proposes, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” During the holiday season, the battle could be financial, emotional, physical, or mental, so be kind because you never know what someone might be experiencing.

The gifts given during the holiday season do not need an expensive price tag. A simple act of forgiveness, communication, or extending an olive branch for peace could bring more cheer to a loved one you are in conflict with than any store- bought gift you find.

 

Happy Holidays,

Abigail R. C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

 

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Watch Those Assumptions! Strategies to Step Up Your Clear Communication

assume1Communication I believe is most important thing in all human interactions, whether it is at home, in school, out in social settings with friends, or in the workplace. People have told me throughout my life that I have high expectations; sometimes too high because I often want perfection. I will admit this can be true. I recently planned my wedding and like most brides, I wanted the day to be perfect, and for the most part it was. I credit my spectacular wedding day to outstanding communication. I gave a very detailed description of exactly what I wanted to every vendor I met. I left no room for interpretation. One vendor mentioned how she preferred all the details because many brides don’t communicate their expectations and needs and then, get upset when things are not exactly how they wanted.

Merriam-Webster defines communication as, “the act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else.” When people don’t communicate what they want, using a lot of details, it leaves room for incorrect assumptions and interpretations.

Workplace settings is an environment that needs clear and consistent communication in order to be successful. CEO’s and upper management need to provide clear and concise expectations of what they need and want from their employees. When employees get hired, they need to be given a detailed description of what exactly their job entails and what will be expected of them while working there. If, for some reason, their job requirements are changed, they need to be communicated so that there is not any confusion. Teams within an organization need to talk with their fellow teammates about project expectations, work issues, and who will handle which parts. The goal of every organization, CEO, manager, employee, should be to communicate as much as possible so that no one will have the excuse that they didn’t know.

Conflict arises when negative or false assumptions occur leading people to react negatively. One of my first jobs was doing clerical work. My immediate supervisor asked me to go through the mounds of unfiled papers and remove any documents that were over ten years old and stack them in a pile while keeping the most current documents in another pile. My supervisor only gave me this instruction. I spent most of the day doing what she asked. When she came to check on me around lunch, she became frustrated because I was not organizing the files alphabetically in the piles. She assumed I knew I was supposed to do this, but I was only following her basic instructions. I ended up organizing the piles alphabetically which took up more of my time and prevented me from completing other tasks. If my supervisor had not assumed and clearly communicated what she wanted, this issue would not have arisen.

The art of communicating well is something we can all practice. Here are strategies to step up your communication:

  1. Check your assumptions. Ask yourself, what are you assuming everyone knows? If you say to yourself, “Everyone should know that.” Then you are making an assumption.
  2. Think before you speak. Take some time before any conversation to lay out the message you want to convey. Think how to say what you want and anticipate what could potentially get misunderstood.
  3. Give details, details, details. You want to be clear and concise when relaying the message, but it is also important to give as much detail as possible. The more information provided, the less chance someone can say they didn’t know this information. If possible, type out what you want to say and distribute it to all parties involved.
  4. Listen to other’s questions. There is a chance you missed an important point. Let others ask clarifying questions that could reduce miscommunication and misinterpretations.

Keep in mind that if you were not explicit in your instructions or message, you risk being misunderstood. Be patient and keep those emotions in check!

Check out some of our previous programs on effective communication here:

The New Trend in Listening: How to Improve Your Communication Skills and Enrich Relationships

How to Have Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High

 

Abigail R.C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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