Holidays can be a time of great tension, especially in families. Tensions and stress is high, and old family feuds can come out. Here’s my top tips on how to avoid arguments with your family at Christmas.

All families have their problems, and Christmas is an easy time for those problems to surface in the form of arguments and family drama. Some families have come to expect this happening as a matter of fact. However if you want to avoid it, there are a few ways to try and minimise the damage as well as avoid the fight all together.

There are things that you can do to prepare yourself beforehand, as well as things you can do during the occasion to calm yourself down. There are also ways for your partner to help you stay out of any fights. Finally there are ways for you to help other family members out to also reduce the risk of a fall out.

Say no to pride and stubbornness

If you often find yourself in the middle of drama and fights in your family, there’s a few things you can look at to try changing. It doesn’t mean you’re wrong, but it does mean that there are ways you can prepare yourself to not get trapped into a fight.

A core problem that causes family fights is pride. People have different opinions about different topics, and sometimes it’s pride that forces us to get into fights over them. When you don’t believe you’re wrong a topic, your stubbornness and pride will force you to escalate the situation. Backing down seems as if you’re admitting you’re wrong, showing weakness and overall losing.

Except is that really the case? When you get into an argument such as this with a family member, if you’re the one that “wins” does it feel good? What have you solved? Most times neither party wants to win. They just don’t want to lose.

It’s important then to understand that you don’t need to be stubborn and proud over a topic you don’t really care about. It’s cliched to say “be the better person”. But doing so might just save your holiday.

Ignore taunts and comments

Some people like starting fights. They’re in an aggressive mood. They’ll bait you, whether they realise it or not. In this situation you need to ignore it. Getting into a fight will give them what they want. Don’t give them that satisfaction.

A good way of preparing yourself for this is to recognise your own triggers. There will be topics or comments that you know will get you worked up. Realising them will help you recognise them when they are brought up. It’ll give you chance to say “No, this will only lead to a fight” and you can change the topic or walk away.

Some things will be annoying. People can be dumb and mean. They will say hypocritical things. They can be passive aggressive towards you, your choices and everything else. You don’t need to rise to that. Just understand that what they are doing is stupid and detach yourself from the situation.

Stay busy, stay nice

A great way of distracting yourself is to keep yourself busy. Help out with preparations for the Christmas dinner. Play with the children. Involve yourself in various ways, but also know when to take time out for yourself. Giving yourself lots of things to do will mean less time to get into feuds.

It’s important to stay nice to everyone. Being polite and pleasant, even if you don’t feel like it, is a good way of keeping the situation under control. If you’re feeling stressed, understand yourself and don’t take it out on other people.

Avoid gossip or bad mouthing. Families always gossip, and it can be worse than outright punching fights. Don’t let yourself get dragged into that drama. If you overhear it, then politely ask whoever to stop. Will they talk behind your back later? Probably. But you’ll know that you didn’t facilitate it.

Be compassionate

A lot of families that fight all the time are families filled with unhappy people. You can be compassionate. If you think one person in particular is going through a hard time, it’s ok to sit with them and talk to them.

Some people are just lonely. Not everyone feels they belong at a family gathering, and isolate themselves which adds to tension. If you can recognise this, then you can work on helping that person feel closer to the family. Or at the very least, closer to one other member.

An important rule is to respect people. Maybe they won’t respect you back, but that’s their choice. You should always treat people with respect, and that change in attitude from you will make a difference.

Another great way to defuse the family situation is to go in full of love. From the moment you arrive, give out lots of hugs and kisses. Smile and greet everyone with happiness, showing them that they are wanted. People are mirrors, so if you show them love and happiness, they’ll shine it back at you. Otherwise they’re a scrooge.