My Top Two Coaching Tips For Family Gatherings This Holiday Season


Over the next couple of days, people will be travelling across the country, or countries, to come home to visit their families for the holiday season. Parents and grandparents are aging, nephews and nieces are going up fast, and your siblings are branching off in their own direction. It’s a precious time to get reacquainted and reminisce about the past and future. What an opportunity to make a personal difference this year, to build a stronger relationship(s) or amend those of the past.

Here Are My Top Two Coaching Tips For Family Holiday Visits

Triggers and Non Verbal Cues – What signals are you sending?

It’s been a while since you have been back home with the family and sometimes old patterns pop up. Triggers can be a place, people, or things that affect your mood, either good or bad. Understanding what these triggers are can help you better plan your gathering or interactions with your family. Keeping a pulse on your body language and for some of us luckier ones, facial reactions can be difficult. Why this is important is that your presence might be felt before your first words have been spoken. Being aware is important but make sure you still enjoy yourself.

If you have a spouse or family member, that you are comfortable with, tell them that this is something that you are working on. Ask them to give you a friendly nudge or another agreed signal, to let them know what you are doing to reset your presence.

Open Ended Questions – What would you like to know about your family this year?

Having a plan is never a bad thing. We have all heard some of these holiday classic questions like “How has everything been?” and “Anything new with you?” The responses are quite typical such as “Good”, “Nothing much”, and “Just busy with work and family”. Having a handful of open ended questions might be the solution and an opportunity to change that. Listed below are some examples to get your started.

  • What are some of your best holiday memories?

  • What was your favorite gift(s) your received and why?

  • What are some of the things that you are really proud of this year?

  • What or who inspired you this year?

Some of these questions are not going to be as easy for some to have an answer right away. Give the person space to think about it and let them speak first. Enjoy the passion and excitement in how they tell the story, and follow up with “Thank you for sharing that with me. It really meant a lot to me.” Make sure you reciprocate your story as well. Sharing these memories will allow them to continue to last a lifetime. This is truly a precious time that should be enjoyed.

Why is an Executive Coach discussing about this topic?

Whether it is dinner with your family and friends or a meeting with work colleagues, we have to be aware of the impression and presence that we are bringing into our environment. This is not always easy as a leader tries to ensure that they have their game face on while inspiring others even though they may not feel, or the environment does not allow them, to be 100%. Being aware of these non-verbal cues and asking great open ended questions will help deepening those relationships, and have a better understanding of what is important to your team.

I would be interested in how do you make the most of your time with your family during this holiday season? If you have any great tips share below.

Also, if you are looking for some additional open ended questions to ask this holiday season, check out this blog post called 20 Questions to Ask This Holiday Season.

Your Yellow Brick Road is waiting. Happy Holidays!

James Amarelo - Founder and President

Yellow Brick Road – Coaching and Consulting

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