It's officially holiday season, and if you're like me the idea of reuniting with certain relatives goes something like:
"They're crazy, out of touch."
"We have nothing in common, we're not on the same page."
"It's impossible to have a meaningful conversation."
"I'll make an escape with spiked eggnog, television, or hiding in the kitchen."
Forever and ever, amen.
Relatives, both in-laws and family we grew up with, have their own special way of getting under our skin.
Looking for a more pleasant alternative? Try some curiosity for a change.
Curiosity can be applied to:
Of course this technique requires some humility and honest introspection. Your relatives may indeed be aliens, crazy, toxic even, but you're going to see them anyways and relating is a two way street. Curiosity will help make those who seem completely opposed to your values, interests, and way of thinking more tolerable, sympathetic, and human.
By the way, since everyone likes to be seen and understood, this strategy can go a long way toward gaining others' respect and smoothing over conflicts in the long run. Carnegie's classic How to Make Friends and Influence People didn't focus on genuine interest in others for nothing. Not to mention it will give you information you were previously overlooking. Applications for improved relationships and influence with just about anyone - bosses, coworkers, stakeholders at work, children, significant others - are a stone's throw away.
Unlike those with whom you have frequent contact, it's pretty unlikely that you'll get your crazy cousins to see things your way over the course of one conversation, but you can definitely create more holiday cheer this way.
Happy holidays to you AND your crazy cousins. I hope you have some curious conversations today.