Coping with the Family and Looking for a Job

Yes, you CAN have a good time at a family gathering.

Yes, you CAN have a good time at a family gathering.

In a parody of seasonal favorite “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” one of The Twelve Pains of Christmas is facing the in-laws. Well, it isn’t just the in-laws that can be a pain, but your family as well. Whether immediate or extended, your family has your best interest in mind. The holiday season is likely to do one thing: bring everyone together, the in-laws and the outlaws. But you can make the season less agonizing.

One of the conversations is sure to be your lack of employment. You can expect advice, criticism and lots of questions. As someone who is searching for a job, you can take steps to prevent attacks and make attending holiday gatherings enjoyable. Planning ahead a little, instead of dreading it, will make family gatherings better for you.

The key is to take the initiative and bring up the situation. By doing so, you take control of the situation because you have determined the ground rules beforehand. And you will follow your rules regardless of what others do or say. Stand firm; this is a commitment to you.

Step 1  In the days leading up to the occasion, decide what you want people to know. Because you know them so well, you can predict what comments they will have. Write it all down.

Step 2  Look at what you have written and take each statement one by one. Write down how you want to respond. Rewrite, tweak, then practice, practice, practice your responses. You should be able to deliver them without missing a thought or idea.

Step 3  Pre-arrange a sign with a trusted ally. When you make the sign, your ally is prepared to intervene and get you out of the situation ASAP. This signal should be subtle and discreet—remove your glasses, tie/scarf, or tug your right ear. It can be a life saver. You won’t have to leave the gathering, just that person.

Step 4  When you arrive at the event, you get to choose the time and place to use your prepared statement. Say what you have planned and don’t allow anyone to interrupt you. When you finish, show that you are not interested in discussing it further. It’s a party! By all means stay calm and respectful. One more thing: Remain alcohol-free when you do this. It adds to your credibility.

Step 5  Enjoy the rest of the event! You will enjoy the rest of the event if you continue to stick to the promise you made to yourself.

Gathering for the holidays is meant to be fun and enjoyable for everyone. But every family has ways of pushing buttons. Sometimes, it is all in good fun; other times, not so. This can be hurtful for the person on the receiving end, even when comments are intended to be in good fun or to be genuinely helpful. With a little planning and lots of patience, the holidays with family can be the happy times they are meant to be. Enjoy the holidays and your family!!


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