Handling Tough Questions During the Holidays

“So…what are you doing with your life?”Handling tough questions during the holidays
“How’s work?”
“Are you still single?“

Are you dreading an inevitable question this holiday season? For many of us, this week kicked off a season filled with socials and family gatherings. These events can be great, often letting us catch up with those we don’t get to see as much as we’d like; they can also be a bit stressful. Perhaps you’re anticipating uncomfortable questions from curious relatives, or worried about how to talk about your difficulties at work. Maybe you’re meeting with old friends and you want to put on a good face.

At times, we all feel pressure to give the impression that we have it all or that we have it all together – but this is limiting. What does “having it all” even mean? No one has a perfect life, and if you spend your time worrying about measuring up to someone else’s standards or trying to attain the unattainable, you’ll miss the great opportunities in front of you.

So, how do you respond to questions you aren’t particularly excited to answer? How do you show up with confidence and authenticity? Here are three tips to help make the most of your interactions this holiday season.

1. Come from a place of positivity. If you’ve had a great year, this should be an easy one – but it’s easier said than done during a difficult period. Perhaps you’re having problems with your team, you are unhappy in your job, or you and your partner are in a rough patch – but try not to dwell in the negativity. Sure, vent and get it out of your system, but then look for the silver lining. Ask yourself: How can I grow from this? How can I turn this terrible job/dispute/relationship into a new opportunity? Then, when you’re asked those uncomfortable questions, you’re able to talk about how you plan to make your life’s challenges work for you. Remember: difficult situations can provide some of the best learning opportunities – and they’re often the events that propel us into action.

2. Channel your inner confidence. It’s easy to succumb to feelings of self-doubt when we aren’t happy with where we are in our lives. We might feel pressure to measure up to other people’s standards, but often, we’re the ones putting those burdens and requirements on ourselves. Remember that a lot of our self-doubt is self-inflicted – so don’t be so hard on yourself. Make a list of what you’re good at and write down the “wins” you had this year. Celebrate in those, and when you’re starting to feel doubt or negativity creeping in, go back to those highlights and remember that you can – and will – continue to have successes. Practice focusing on what’s right and not what’s wrong, and it will start to come naturally.

3. Go in with a plan. If you’re worried about questions you’ll get (“So, you STILL haven’t found a job?”), think through how you can answer in a way that is honest but doesn’t give in to negativity. If you don’t want to talk about something, prepare a sentence or two that helps you respond and change the conversation. But don’t forget to think about your longer-term plan – what steps are you going to take to change your situation so that a year from now, you’ll look forward to sharing details about your great new job or how you’ve turned things around at work? What will you do to create positive change in your life? This will help you answer tough questions, but it will also get you in the right mindset to start taking action to change the things that are holding you back.

The holidays provide invaluable opportunities to reconnect with people, and you have the power to shape these interactions. You can help create positive encounters, even if things aren’t “perfect,” by staying confident and authentic. Showing up in these situations with a positive attitude and a plan will go a long way in helping you enjoy this holiday season, as well as going into 2018 with purpose.

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