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Fa-La-La: How to get along with difficult family members over the holidays

By Dr. Lawana R. Lofton, PsyD

How do you get along with difficult family members? Of course we love [ all ] of our relatives, right? Even the relationships with in-laws, but sometimes getting along with everyone during the holidays is not an easy task. Communication expert, Sandra A. Crowe, MA., author of Since Strangling Isn’t an Option, states that “difficult” people fall into very distinct types. Once you know which type “Aunt Betty,” or the bothersome “Mother in-law Claudia” is, just use these proven strategies to have them eating out of your hand:

The Master of Sarcasm This is the brother who, when you show up a minute late responds by saying, “My, we’re punctual.” Often he believes jabbing is a way of showing affection, but that does not make their remarks any nicer. Sure-fire Strategy: Respond with “Thanks!” Or, “I like you, too.” Generally, they will laugh and feel a bit embarrassed.

The Gabber Know that sister-in-law who corners you in the kitchen only to rattle on and on about her life? She is a Gabber, all right. Sure-fire Strategy: Gabbers have trouble organizing their thoughts, so it is up to you to get things back on track by rephrasing for them – “So you’re telling me….” Once they are refocused, you will be able to move on.

The Know it All This person is easy to spot. Maybe the sister who gets insulted when you offer some input on how to solve a problem her child is having. Sure-fire Strategy: Know-it-alls are insecure. So if you try to convince them of something, all you will get is an argument. Instead, agree with them whenever you can. They will feel validated, and more open to what you have to say.

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