For the lucky people out there who have families and friends who all get along well over the holidays, we envy you! And we hope you enjoy your holiday gatherings thoroughly. But for the many of us who have to navigate difficult situations, strained conversations, and parties with attendees who don't see eye-to-eye on politics, this blog is for you.

We've all been there. We find ourselves at a holiday gathering and there's a strained political conversation going on in one room. And slowly people are trying to leave before it gets too heated. Or maybe the shouting has already started! When you think of this moment, is it a family member or a friend? Or possibly both? Whatever the case, we've come up with some tips to help you not just get through these parties, but actually enjoy them!

When In Doubt, Look To TED

We've shared many TEDTalks on our blogs and once again we are looking to the professionals for help. And thankfully, they don't disappoint! Celeste Headlee walks viewers through excellent tips in her talk titled "Help make American talk again." Headlee makes the point that it's important to talk to people who disagree with us, and we couldn't agree more.

But if you need some more tips from TED on how to talk to that person you disagree with, but not end up arguing, then check out the accompanying blog. They've laid out the easy-to-follow steps that we can all use.

Moving Past Arguing

You manage to have a conversation with that "difficult" party goer, but what now? How do you not let it ruin your night? And how do you get back to enjoying the party and not dreading future gatherings? We recommend employing mindfulness to make sure you have a good time and don't let that argument or disagreement bother you.

This article, 10 Mindful Ways to Enjoy the Holiday Season, is a great place to start. Remember to be compassionate and really listen to your friends and family. That will help engage your empathy and reduce any lingering anger.

Other great tips from the article include enjoying some sweet treats, making sleep and meditation a priority, and of course--remember to breathe! When we find ourselves ins stressful situations, it can be easy to let the emotions take control. So find a quiet place, take some deep breaths, and think of all the things you enjoy about the holidays. Focus on those and you might just find yourself actually enjoying the parties in real time!

Prevent Arguments in the First Place

If you want to take a more proactive approach to stopping arguments at holiday parties this year, then show up with a copy of Why Can't We All Just Get Along? Not only does it make a great host gift (hint hint), but it's setup to prevent arguments. The questions are worded in such a way as to engage more thoughtful responses, introspection, and listening from everyone participating. The game is the perfect way to get everyone to hear each other and be open.

Vulnerability can make for more meaningful moments, but you may need to be the first one to take vulnerability plunge. So pull some of your favorite cards and steer the tone of the night before it has a chance to be tense.

For the month of June we've been focusing on all sorts of conflict. From art and literature to conflicts at work and more, knowing how to resolve conflicts is a skill that we all need and can all improve upon. And conflict is something we all deal with at home, too. Especially parents! Just think of all of the arguments you've had with toddlers. Even if you're not a parent, you've seen adults struggle to resolve some crying over the smallest of things.

And what about teenagers? Teenage rebellion is built around conflict. With parents, school, and something it even feels like it's them versus the world. Since this kind of conflict affects all of us, we've gathered some great resources to help you resolve those conflicts faster, better, and hopefully with fewer tears.

Conflicts with Toddlers and Younger Children

close up of young child screaming

Scholastic has been with us all through many decades of education, and conflict and conflict resolution is no foreign concept for them. This article from them is excellent and shows how children actually learn, at every stage, through conflict. It's important to remember that arguments aren't just about getting their way or causing problems. Children are actually learning! And that means the ways you want to resolve conflicts with kids may look a bit different than what you would do with slightly older children.

What about children who are having conflict with another child? This is another excellent learning opportunity. And although it may feel stressful in the moment, this great blog from Carrots are Orange gives you specific advice and steps to take to get to a resolution that works for everyone and prevents them in the future, too.

Conflicts with Teenagers

teenager with backpack walking away from viewer scratching his neck depressively

As this article from Huffington Post says, "Coping and managing conflict is one of the most important lessons your children will ever learn. All day long, children confront conflict -- they disagree with their parents, their siblings, their friends, their teachers -- so it is impossible to protect them from it... but you can help them learn how to deal with it." And that is so true! The earlier our children learn how to cope with conflict, the easier it will be for them as they grow up and confront even more conflict at work, school, and with their peers.

Teenagers (and tweens) are often faced with a different kind of conflict now, one that is based in social media. Whether it's an internal conflict that comes from seeing others living "perfect lives" on Instagram, or if it's an external conflict with friends as they all grow and change, teenagers have conflict at every turn. This article in the New York Times, written by a psychologist, gives more great advice on helping teenagers learn how to manage the conflict. And you might just find yourself using some of the techniques described here, too.

What do you think about when you hear the phrase "conflict resolution?" Do mediators come to mind? Perhaps law offices, tense conversations, or even timeouts for toddlers who have a real penchant for conflict sometimes. Many of us tend toward thinking of conflict (and the ways to resolve it) as a very serious endeavor, one rooted in difficult conversations and maybe even arguing. And of course, that is very true! But conflict can also benefit from humor and laughter. And a good laugh may even resolve your conflict. Below, we've compiled some interesting and hopefully useful information on using humor to help with conflicts in your life.

Humor As A Tool

young man smiling in coffee shop

You may not think of it this way, but humor is a tool you can use in conversations. Whether it's connecting with someone new, rekindling a friendship, or finding common ground with a coworker, humor is a great way to make all of those things happen. Who doesn't like to laugh at a well-timed joke? And humor is a great way to engage with people in a non-violent, non-threatening way. A useful tool for conflict, especially.

This article from Daily Good tackles just that--using humor as a tool--and does so within a political setting, too. And it shows how a little bit of laughter can quickly ease tension between people. But it also reminds us that humor can go wrong, if you're not careful. You must be sure you are making fun of a situation, not a person. Because personal attacks will quickly escalate any conflict you may be in. If you can remember that you care about a person's well-being, and that you want to be able to laugh about a situation you're in, then you should have success when trying for a joke to ease a conflict.

Using Humor to Break Down Barriers

two young women speaking with conviviality

What of the best things about shared laughter is its ability to quickly break down the barriers between people. Think back to moments when you shared a laugh with a stranger and how you felt a quick connection. Or perhaps when seeing a funny movie and the camaraderie that happens when the entire audience all laughs together. It's a great feeling and a great way to dispel conflict. Or at least get people to relax and listen a bit better to each other.

This article from Mediate talks about laughter in relationships and how it can bring down barriers. Whether it's between a couple who are fighting or a pair of friends, laughter can be a real help in an argument. The author notes that humor is a great way to defuse tensions and also create perspective. Because if you're a couple in an argument, remembering that you can (and do) laugh together is a great way to remember why you're together. Laughter will bring down walls and defenses, but just be sure you're laughing about a situation and not the other person.

The next time you find yourself in conflict with someone, try to find a way to laugh at the situation your in and connect with others through a good, shared laugh.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “conflict”? And how about when you hear “conflict resolution”? Many of us are taught from a young age that we should avoid conflict and that it’s not a positive thing. And for others, conflict was around every corner growing up, depending on their individual home life circumstances, and that creates a desire to avoid conflict as an adult, too. But we don’t have to avoid conflict. And, in fact, learning how to confront conflict, resolve it, and move on is a great skill to have!

From work to family and strangers, we are all going to encounter conflict. Whether it comes in political discussions, fights with toddlers, or with a coworker, conflict is here to stay. For the month of June, we are focusing on ways in which conflict is represented, how to resolve it, and so much more. Stay tuned!

Learn from others

To start, we found some excellent TED Talks to share. Each one has some great, unique insights to share that just might help you with any current conflicts you’re facing.

Jonathan Marks: In Praise of Conflict

Marks is a lawyer and bioethicist and tackles conflict on a big scale. He discusses how we are taught that conflict is bad and compromise and consensus are good, unpacks these ideas, and then expands them to how governments are working. This talk was from 2017, and is still relevant to so much of what we see going on globally in politics today.

Julia Dhar: How To Disagree Productively and Find Common Ground

If there’s someone who knows about conflict, it’s a world debate champion! Dhar offers three techniques to use when talking with others to find common ground so that people can disagree productively. Meaning, not just argue but actually get somewhere. These tips will prove helpful for those caught in family and work arguments.

Robin Funsten: How Understanding Conflict Can Help Improve Our Lives

The last TED Talk we are sharing is from a woman who deals with conflict for a living. Funsten is a mediator, conflict consutant, educator and more and has made confronting conflict part of her every day. She also helps others better understand the power of conflict and how it can produce positive change in our lives.

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