In today’s podcast Teresa and I talk about how much we enjoy family reunions. We also talk about the family challenges (some would say dysfunction) that can sometimes make gathering with family very challenging. That’s putting it mildly. Sometimes getting with family can be so painful that folks would actually prefer a visit to the dentist rather than attend a family event.
I have had misunderstandings crop up in my family through the years that have made getting together with family painfully awkward and caused me to experience anxiety before I even arrived at the family event. For the record, my family rocks. Thus, I firmly believe that if disagreements can occur in my loving family (shout out to the Brown clan!) then no family is immune. With that said, I wanted to offer the following tips to help you navigate these dysfunctional and very painful familial waters:
· Talk About It
o Don’t think that by not talking about the issue it will go away. It. Will. Not. It will fester and possibly enlarge to include other family members who may feel they are being put in the middle.
o Take a deep breath and replay what occurred. Try to be fair in your replay of the event. Think about what was said or done. Is there a possibility that you might be mistaken in your assessment?
· Develop Your Script
o If you believe that your response (anger, disappointed, embarrassment etc.) is warranted, come up with a movie script. Yes, you read that right. You need a movie script. You are the producer. Come up with the location. Determine how and when you will discuss the matter with the offending family member. Preferably this will be in private and not when you have your posse with you. (Show some courage and don’t act like a fifth grader.) Before the scene begins, plan what you will say and practice your delivery. Pay close attention to your tone and your pacing. (In this case pacing means to allow some time for the person to hear you and for you to hear them.) Your script should tell you where you hope this will end. If you know your ending, then the actions and dialogue in the script should all work together to get you there. If you don’t want a surprise ending then plan, rewrite and make cuts as needed.
· That’s a Wrap
o Remember that while you are the producer (since you were brave enough to broach the issue in an attempt to resolve it) you are not the star and you are not the director. It’s not all about you. You have to be open to edits and possibly a poor review. It happens. Don’t take it personally if your plan does not resolve the matter. You did your part and hopefully you have planted a seed for the other party or parties to consider. Who knows, they may just want to take on the role of producer at a later time. When they are ready. That’s up to them.