Christmas Tips from a Mediator

Families argue at Christmas. I put this down to Too Much or Too Little.  Too much time together. Too much to eat and drink, too much expectation and disappointment, but mostly too much said, after too little thought.

You could mediate Christmas; I think you’d find it makes a difference.

Lucy “I hate roast potatoes!”
You “OK, you don’t like roast potatoes, would you like parsnips?” (Active listening and summarising, Lucy feels heard, another option offered).

John “My family haven’t wanted me at Christmas for years . . .”
You “It must feel really hard not to see your family at Christmas” (acknowledging and summarising) but they do live a long way away and we’d miss you. . “(re-frame the reason, it’s not lack of love it’s distance and he has good friends.  Challenge the script).

Focus Pictures Xmas team black background Dec 2013

Usually someone plays Christmas Martyr; people compete for this role, especially in the kitchen. You have a choice – compete or let them get on with it and take the dog for a walk, get very drunk, retire to bed sick or become deaf. The script assigned to you is usually callous selfishness. Nothing appeases the martyr, because it’s their favourite role and they won’t give it up.  Play the game, admire their self sacrifice and hard work, they will love it and you will have peace.

If all else fails, call us after the Christmas shut-down and we’ll try to help, our number is 01908 410509. We may have been working hard over Christmas – but then so may you…

One Trackback

  1. By Defusing Arguments « Focus Mediation blog on May 15, 2014 at 9:14 am

    […] Well, first of all start where the other person is. Listen to them, understand what they are saying, show that you understand by summarising to them what they told you. Then ask them a question about it, make them think, perhaps they might not be exactly right? Always focus on the issues and speak calmly and precisely, preferably don’t sound as though you are laying down the law. Better to be questioning as people always believe things they work out for themselves. Carefully avoid personal attacks and adopt logical explanatory reasoning, never blowing things out of proportion or attacking the other person.  Suggest adjourning the discussion to another time, when everyone has calmed down. Say you want to ‘think’ thus introducing the idea that people can change their minds thoughtfully without loss of face and power.  Try not to tell or boss  the other person, instead ask them relevant questions, which may begin ‘What if . . ‘ or ‘do you think that . . .? […]


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