Are you one of the many that see Christmas as being more about family obligations than anything else? Do you just know you’re going to have to “be nice” and put on your best forced grin? Sure, nobody wants to disappoint, but all this obligatory presence can generate a great deal of stress and discomfort… Maybe you’ve imagined flying up a chimney to escape those unpleasant questions or comments… jumping on the nearest low-flying reindeer?
Well, we can all be subject to a verbal tyrant. It might be a relative, even your own brother or sister, and sometimes it seems mothers-in-law are naturally given this dominating role! But whatever the source, we need to find a way to protect ourselves, because Christmas is never a good time to be in conflict. Is there ever a good time!?
What strategies can you put in place to protect yourself, which minimize the risk of conflict?
B: “So … still no job (or girlfriend, etc.)!”
Indeed, instead of letting yourself be lead into an imposed frame of exchange, how about inviting the ‘provoker’ to explore the (constantly evolving) definition of their words – thus, creating your own frame.
In practice, we often start off the Verbal Aikido workshops with “verbal stretching”, using these guidelines:
- Let go of the need to be right (about your definition of the word being “stretched”)
- Search for the opposite meaning or sentiment of the given word
- Stay open to the perspective that words are always evolving
This stretching exercise can last from 5 to 15 minutes, and it is a practice that can be done as a daily or regular exercise that enables us to:
- stabilize our Inner Smile in exchanges,
- develop our capacity to destabilize with the meaning prod technique,
- express ourselves with greater eloquence (see “dispositio” and “memoria” in rhetoric)
So your mission, over this festive holiday period, could be to word-stretch when you feel attacked. It may help you take a little distance from what you hear… And if you start to notice a space where you could propose a bit of inclusive humour, for example… well, you’d be practicing VA already.