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Acquire: Plan for Gratitude

We’ve had an ongoing theme this week about noticing our preparedness for less than pleasant Holiday encounters.

Begin by remembering why we gather — Humans are built for community. That said, here are some potential scenarios and select disruptions. No matter what happens just keep breathing.

You could choose avoidance. Arrive prepared with games, movies, and/or activities such as using conversation starters or focusing on gratitude. Keep it positive. Potentially gently steering anyone, itching for a fight, back to the task on hand.

If you tend to shut down, focus on deep and full breaths. Stay present in that breath, which means if this room is toxic, excuse yourself and step away.

If you choose to engage and it goes off the rails, you can try to become a mirror. When someone says something horrific, they are sometimes surprised to hear it back. A calm, “What I just heard you say is,” followed by a close account, is an effective tool for getting people to understand they are out of line. Especially if delivered with as little of your emotional shading as possible.

If there is an avoidance of something important, this may or may not be the place for forcing the issue. Mostly, I say this because I like people to both prepare for and allow others to prepare for hard conversations. But, if that isn’t an option:

  1. Agree on some rules of engagement.
  2. Attack actions, not people, even if it is their fault.
  3. Address the nouns, not the verbs. 
  4. Don’t let your emotions escalate without your notice. Charge, or emotion, management is an important part of any hard conversation. Use breath, pacing, and breaks to manage yours.

Lastly, speaking in clear, non-accusatory statements can go a long way. Extend a little grace to the room, and it might be a more pleasant experience than you anticipated.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Gina Razón is the Founder and CEO at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service verbal communication studio in Boston’s Back Bay.  She has over two decades of experience as a teacher of voice and speech, is a communication and change facilitator, and is a voraciously curious voice user.  Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer for over a decade and more recently as a professional public speaker.  For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit

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