The festive season is just around the corner and it is a wonderful time of the year. You are surrounded by family, there is a scrumptious meal on the table, wine in your hands and cheerful conversation. It is a time of joy, peace and a perfect Hallmark Christmas movie like celebration or at least that is what you hope for. In reality, however, the family getting together could bring up unresolved tensions, strained relationships and rehashing of the past, resulting in a stressful environment and conflict.

Let’s take look at a few ways that can help you deal with conflict during the festive season:

  1. Manage expectations

You can try your very best to put together the most perfect Christmas but it is important to accept that perfection is unrealistic. Remember, occasional conflict is a normal occurrence in every relationship, festive season is no different. So, brace yourself for some arguments and imperfect moments to arise. High expectations from your family to behave a certain way and of a perfect Christmas event could contribute to stress, disappointment and conflict when things don’t go your way. Accept your family for who they are and let go of your need to control how the day unfolds; celebrate without any expectations. Shift your focus to the little joys of Christmas. Don’t forget to check in with yourself to see how you are feeling. If you are feeling overwhelmed and irritable, step away and take a few minutes for yourself.


  1. Communicate

Running away from conflict does not make it disappear or help heal your relationship. Sometimes the best way to deal with conflict can be to face it head on. While this may not be the most convenient solution, considering you are dealing with family, who you have to be in the presence of time and again, the discomfort may be worth the effort. The first step to resolving conflict, starts with a simple conversation. Take initiative to reach out to the person you are having issues with and let them know that you want to reconcile your differences.

If you happen to have a strained relationship with someone in your family, it is advisable to meet them to discuss any issues you have had in the past and clear the air, before the day of celebrations. This will decrease the probability of the issue cropping up later. Approach them from a place of genuinely wanting to patch up the relationship. Here are a few key pointers to keep in mind when you meet them:

  • Meet at a location that is not loud, somewhere where you can have a good conversation and listen to each other.
  • Start by setting a positive tone for the rest of the conversation. Identify the strengths in the relationship, how great things were in the past prior to the disagreement and what’s been good in your relationship. Thank them for taking the time to speak to you.
  • There are always two sides to a story. So, give the person the opportunity to explain their side of the story first. Do not cut them in between to justify your actions or defend yourself. Remember, you are here to reconcile and not to prove you were right. Being defensive will affect the tone of the conversation and will result in the person feeling like they do not have the space to speak. Make sure you are not distracted and are actively listening to what they have to say.
  • Acknowledge and empathise with the emotion behind what they are saying. Summarise what they told you in a way that reflects you heard them and understand where they are coming from, before sharing your own perspective. Try using statements like, I understand you are [reflect their emotion] because [reason for their emotion].
  • Demonstrate that you are actively listening to them and are genuinely trying to understand their concerns by asking pertinent questions and engaging with what they said.
  • When they are done speaking and it is your turn to speak, take a minute or two to think about what you want to say and how you are going to say it. Remind yourself that while you cannot control how they respond to you, you can control your own response. Don’t let emotions guide you, instead try to remain objective and level-headed.
  • Discuss and brainstorm solutions that are agreeable to the both of you. Getting to the root of each person’s needs can help you identify a mutually agreeable solution. If you reach an impasse and are struggling to find common ground, remain calm and agree to disagree. Accept that the other person is entitled to their own opinion just like you are.
  • Most importantly, do not back away from taking responsibility, if you are in the wrong. Often, that is all people in a conflict are looking for, to hear the other person owning up to their mistake.
  • End the conversation on a positive note by acknowledging the ground you have covered and how you are moving forward.


  1. Regulate your emotions

If on the day of the event, you were to find yourself in a conflicting situation, simply ask yourself, “does the issue mean so much to me that it is worth fighting over right now?” Reflect their emotions back to them and let them know that you would prefer not to get into a discussion today and will pick this up on a later day since it is a day of celebration. If things seem to be getting heated, step away for a while until things cool down.

Christmas is a season of love, forgiveness and change. Before the festive season begins, take some time out to reflect on all the conflicts you have been a part of before and how you responded in the situation. Think about how things ended. If you find that your response might have made matters worse, reflect on how you could have responded instead. Internalise these learnings to prevent similar situations in the future.


Reethu George is a lawyer turned conflict coach and Founder of ClarityBrew. ClarityBrew is a boutique conflict coaching company. She specialises in helping women experiencing interpersonal and inner conflict, gain clarity and direction through 1:1 coaching.

She is on a mission to create safe listening spaces for women and guide them through their journey of discovery while empowering them to develop their own path to transformational change.

She is gifting a 60 minute 1:1 session to women who are looking for guidance, support and a safe space. Head to her website to schedule your Clarity Call. For tips on mindset and mental wellness, you can follow her on Instagram.