5 Holiday Communication Tips: Survive and Thrive!

5 Dec, 2016 / by Christina Bowser

Black Friday sales, gift return lines, extended family get-togethers, work parties...stressing you out yet? Remember your holiday communication tips to get the most out of these busy times.

A brief moment to look at the downside

Enjoying the best of the holidays at work and outside of work is the ideal goal, but can also end up with its challenges. Times like these can bring stress and higher levels of emotions, which can result in amplifying our style. Our behavioral strengths can help carry us through challenging situations, but strong emotions can also cause us to forget to modify. We don't need to be overwhelmed, but a few useful holiday communication tips can help you survive and thrive through these busy times!

In addition, stress and emotions may cause us to overuse our strengths to the point they become a negative behavior. For example, you're in charge of planning the holiday party at work, but it's your first time and you don't know where to start. As an S-style you excel at being responsible, working hard and considering the needs of everyone. However, under pressure you may take on too much and not ask for help. Do you feel yourself getting stuck when making decisions because you want to please everyone? Have you ever tried to do it all and delegate? See where this can go?

What can we do to ensure that work and family are both being taken care of this holiday season, and reduce work-life holiday stress? Here are a few simple holiday communication tips for enjoying the holidays!

Communication tip #1: Remembering we have different ways to communicate

Remembering we have different ways to communicateThink back on a time you were frustrated trying to return a gift or getting help on the phone or in person. We've all been there. You know what you are talking about, but the person doesn't seem to get it. Then we tend to become more emotional and things start to spiral down. We don't communicate the same way. We are unique and we have different styles. Self-awareness is one step towards better communication, but it is just as important to identify styles of others. Remember the simple OAR acronym that stands for observe, assess, and recognize. This is a skill that takes practice, but is easy to learn.

When you meet people, observe body language, words they use, tone of voice, and what they tend to talk about. Next, assess if they are more of an active style (D-styles or I-styles) versus reserved (S-styles or C-styles). Active styles are more future focused, louder, more animated and assertive, and maintain strong eye contact. Reserved styles tend to speak with a calmer or quieter voice, have less direct eye contact, and talk more about how things are now. You need to decide if they are more people (I-styles and S-styles) or task focused (D-styles and C-styles). Do they prefer to focus on things and tasks or do they prefer to focus on people and relationships? Once you have a better idea of how a person prefers to interact then you can begin to modify your style.

Communication tip #2: Knowing when you are stressed

Knowing when you are stressedPressures and demands create stress for all people. During the holidays we have the joy of seeing family, wonderful meals, and even exchanging cards and gifts. However, we are often working through the holidays which can be a lot. We need to find the balance between the pressures and the joy of this time. One way is to recognize our signs of stress. While it is nearly impossible to eliminate stress, we can manage it by understanding our own unique causes and signs of stress, as well as how best to alleviate it. The causes of stress are different from one person to another. Look at your DISC report to see what typically causes you stress and how you tend to react to stress. Your DISC report can tell you how you show signs of stress and how someone with your style prefers to manage stress.

Can you think if a recent situation where you showed one or more stress behaviors? What happened? What could you have done differently and better? Are you the difficult one in the interaction? You can learn more holiday communication tips on how DISC styles manage stress in our past webinar.

Communication tip #3: Breathe between interactions

Holiday communication tips can be simple. Beyond breathing's survival function it easily overlooked how vital it is to slow down and breathe. It help us focus on what is present and what comes next. Just like with challenging people and those with styles different from our own. Take a moment to reset yourself between all the people you are with. This can be just a few seconds. Then you are more prepared to interact with a different style. Adjustment takes energy and during the holidays there may be many times you need to adjust. It's okay to take a breather and regroup. We re-energize differently so find a simple method that works for you. For example, it's okay to focus on one person versus large groups if you feel more at ease.

It's okay to step away from the social scene for a minute. For the active styles, group settings may be the perfect element for you to be the center of attention, but make sure the exchanges aren't only one sided. Listen because many people may have something to share.

Communication tip #4: Be careful not to overuse your style

Be careful not to overuse your styleThink of those holiday dinners when there are too many generals trying to direct the cooking. We all have preferred ways of doing things and can do them easily and efficiently. In times where we are emotional we tend to rely on our natural style even more because we don't have to focus on it. In addition, stress and strong emotions make us less likely to modify our behavior. We need to be aware that when the stress level becomes high, we tend to overuse our strengths and the worst of us may come out. Think about the last time you were angry. Do you remember making conscious decisions about how to best adjust your style? Think about the last fight you had with a friend, family member or a co-worker. Did you remember to adjust your communication style?

Sometimes we just do not feel like doing it. Our energy is low or we are not motivated. When this happens, focus on the big picture. Ask yourself: “What is the cost of not adjusting my behavior?” This often helps put everything into perspective. Modifying behavior takes energy. When you are tired, this gets even harder. Take a break or postpone an important interaction. Physical health and rest actually improve our ability to modify behavior.

Strong emotions are the enemy of behavioral modification. Don’t forget this to maintain your awareness and not allow your strengths to become liabilities. Slow down, be present and aware of your style. Remember that strong emotions can prevent us from making the best adjustments. Keep the end goal in mind when modifying your behavior. You can learn more holiday communication tips about not overusing your style in our past webinar.

Communication tip #5: Have a plan whenever possible

One of the main reasons we focus on DISC is to help us build a strategic and proactive communication response. If you know how you tend to behave under pressure and in different settings then you can also think of ways to better adjust to those settings. When you feel yourself getting stressed give yourself permission to re-energize. For different DISC styles it may mean being around certain people, working out, being alone, or stepping away for a while.

Let the fun begin

So hang out with the family, friends, and co-workers! Know that this time can be full of cheer and fun, but also stressful. By using these holiday communication tips and having a plan in place before the full holiday season is upon us helps us make the best of it! Practice and use these simple techniques and you will be ready to enjoy all that holidays have to offer!

holiday communication tips

Happy Holidays from all of us here at Extended DISC!

Topics: Blog, News

Christina Bowser

Written by Christina Bowser