12 Days of Christmas
From obligatory guests, drunk guests, awful gifts, burned food, not enough food, inappropriate family members, and the passive-aggressive in-laws, it’s no wonder many people find this a stressful time!
I’m going to share my interpretation of the 12 days of Christmas, calling it the “12 negotiations of Christmas”.
(Go on, sing along) On the first day of Christmas, my negotiation skills gave to me…
A pleasant way to compliment terrible food.
Ok ok, I know it doesn’t really fit with the song, but just go along with it!)
Knowing that never want to lie when using negotiation skills, if the food isn’t up to scratch, why don’t you try a compliment that recognises their efforts, like “wow, I can tell you put so much effort into serving up this feast. Tell me about which dish was the most difficult”.
On the second day of Christmas, my negotiation skills gave to me…
A respectful way to accept an awful gift.
If you know the giver was well-meaning, how about something like “wow, I can see exactly why you selected this gift for me… it’s because (insert your best guess here)”
On the third day of Christmas, my negotiation skills gave to me…
Good conversation across the dinner table.
Instead of commenting on the food, the weather or how the year has been, how about some other open-questions to get people talking, like “What’s the best Netflix series you binged this year?” or “What’s something exciting you’re looking forward to next year?”
On the fourth day of Christmas, my negotiation skills gave to me…
A way to tell your drunk relative they’ve had enough.
“I love seeing you have a great time! You know what’s NOT fun? Hangovers… what size water glass can I get you for your next couple of beverages?”
On the fifth day of Christmas, my negotiation skills gave to me…
A strategy to deal with an overtired child.
“What’s been your favourite thing about today so far? You know what, why don’t you go and grab one of your new books and let’s find a special place together and I’ll read it to you with my best funny voices.”
On the sixth day of Christmas, my negotiation skills gave to me…
Ears to listen to someone you’ve never liked.
Rather than spark up an argument, here’s your chance to try and win an Oscar for “best listener”. Genuinely listen to them (unless they are being a jerk and unpleasant… then see Day Seven below). Give them some minimal encouragers like “interesting”, “ah-huh”, “oh really” as they talk at you.
You get bonus points for being respectful.
On the seventh day of Christmas, my negotiation skills gave to me…
A distraction when you’re talking to a jerk.
You don’t have to pick a fight here, but you could try, “hey, I’m not enjoying this conversation as much as I’d like. What else can we talk about instead?” or “Do you mind if I ask you to watch your language, there are lots of kids around who don’t know those kinds of words yet”.
On the eighth day of Christmas, my negotiation skills gave to me…
A polite way to exit over-stayers
Rather than the passive-aggressive statements and hope people take the hint, you could try “in an hour from now, our family are planning to have some quiet time together, just the five of us, to finish the day off together. (pause) I hope it’s ok that I give you some notice before we tell the kids that people will soon be leaving?”
On the ninth day of Christmas, my negotiation skills gave to me….
Patience when you’ve been run off your feet all day
It shows strength when you have a clear ‘ask’ of people. So, be prepared to ask and direct your guests and family to do exactly what you want them to do. No one is a mind reader, and we are more likely to get what we want by being clear.
On the tenth day of Christmas, my negotiation skills gave to me…
A strategy to deal with family drama
It’s the day you’re forced to be pleasant and get along with family members for the sake of the Christmas. Be prepared and aim to listen, rather than retaliate. Another strategy is to meet on neutral ground, and head for a hotel lunch or the beach (if you’re in Australia).
On the eleventh day of Christmas, my negotiation skills gave to me…
Skills to communicate with patronising in-laws
Rather than get angry at the in-laws (again) when they make no effort, or make inappropriate comments about anything, take the lead and try “I know this might be new to you, it’s new to me as well. We’re trying to be more encouraging of each other as there has been so much negativity around this year. I’d really appreciate it if we could try this together”.
On the twelfth day of Christmas, my negotiation skills gave to me…
Some words to use so you get to have an afternoon nap.
Go for a trade, and some early warning. No one likes you hear that you’ve snuck away when all the cleaning up is about to begin! Try, “So that I can get through the evening, would you mind if I took a short nap after lunch? I’ll ensure that the table is cleared, and the kids are settled first. Then, let’s tag team and you can have a nap as well!”