Northern Virginia Ethical Society (NoVES)

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Family Events Can Be Challenging

Monday, November 25, 2019 10:45 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

A not so tense family moment

Holidays can be great family times.  Holidays can also be times of stress with multi-leveled, complex family relationships.

My opening words today were:

Do not kid yourself, a conflict is never about the surface issue.  It’s about one’s unsaid, untreated, and unhealed wounds.

This can be very true and is something to always keep in mind… though sometimes a disagreement, is just a difference of opinion.

Many of you may live inside your own information bubble, interacting mostly with others who mostly agree with you.  I know that I spend most of my time in my information bubble.  Holiday events can be a time when we venture outside of our information bubbles and spend time with family members.  We may be with people - who we care deeply about - whose opinions are very different than our own.

How do you react to a relative saying, “Trump is the greatest president ever!”

Laughter, while tempting, would probably not lead to a considerate exchange.

Instead, pause, take a moment to reflect, before responding. Consider…

What is the history of this relationship?

Do you want to repeat familiar patterns of disagreement and conflict?

Is it necessary to address this disagreement?  Can it be avoided?

This could be a time to value relationship over opinion.

Instead of confronting your relative, it may be a chance to lean in

“Tell me more about why you think that Trump is the greatest president?”

Listen.  Ask honest questions.  Listen some more.  Thank them for helping you better understand where they are coming from.

Leaning in might help, or you may choose another way to respond. 

Family can disagree about many things.  Many are much more personal than political disagreement.  In such cases I think that my opening words are worth considering:

Do not kid yourself, a conflict is never about the surface issue.  It’s about one’s unsaid, untreated, and unhealed wounds.

Whatever you do, do it with the commitment to bringing out the best in others.  Consideration can make a difference.

Yours in Ethical Community,

Randy Best


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