The holiday season can be many things, including challenging, difficult, exciting, or joyful—and can change between them from minute to minute or day to day. There are just so many situations we find ourselves in, besides what we see on the Hallmark Channel.
We’ve talked before about the pitfalls of coaching family and friends. While I still caution against formal coaching arrangements with family or friends, there are ways we can use our coaching skills and listening skills over the holidays.
So what can make the holidays less than happy?
- Family gatherings: Seeing family you haven’t seen all year, or for many years, can bring up intense feelings. Childhood patterns may re-emerge, and conflict can surface even among people who typically get along.
- Social situations: The pressure to gather and socialize can be particularly tough for some of us, for many reasons. Other people feel intense loneliness and isolation, more so when they imagine that everyone else is having perfect holiday get-togethers (which is not likely!).
- Loss and change: Some have lost loved ones this year, or continue to feel earlier losses more deeply at this time. Others are having their first holiday season in a new home, location, or family situation, or are adjusting to other major changes.
- Money stress: Holiday traditions can be expensive, especially when we try to keep up with other people’s standards or examples.
- Overwhelm and time stress: When you add holiday commitments and pressures to already busy lives, it equals overwhelm. In that state, it’s very difficult to make good decisions or be present to what’s best for you or those around you.
- Weather: For some of us, winter weather events can add another layer of complication, and severe weather is becoming more and more of an ever-present risk for us all.
First, coach yourself
When we were learning to be a coach and being mentored, self-care was a constant theme, covering all the basics like setting boundaries and limits and saying no. If you need a refresher (and we all do, sometimes!), consider even one or two sessions with your own coach to strengthen your personal foundation and head into the season ready to show up at your best.
Use this time to create a vision for the next few weeks. What do you really want? We’ll talk more about creating a holiday vision in the next post. In the meantime, find more peace by repeating one of these mantras:
- Keep it simple
- Stay in the moment
Put on your coaching hat
One of the simplest yet most powerful ways we can help others at this time of year is to listen without judgment. Instead of telling people what they should do, say, “Tell me more.”
It’s also a good time to practice listening with your eyes. Notice. Observe others. What’s their body language telling you? Is that congruent with their words? Consider whether it’s the right time and whether you’re the right person, to engage with them and just say, “Hey, how are you?”
You can also help by staying in the moment with people and seeing them who they are now, not how you remember them from childhood or even last year. Give everyone the opportunity to be themselves. And while you’re at it, give yourself that same permission to not slip back into your old roles.
We can also extend our coaching skills to the people that we encounter in the stores—both the other shoppers and the staff. This can be a stressful time for everybody, and we can make that situation worse or better with how we carry ourselves.
Wearing your coaching hat over the holidays means being fully present. That’s the best kind of gift we can give people. We want to be listening far more than we’re speaking—listening instead of spouting out answers. Ask questions, be curious. “What would bring you joy?”
Acknowledge the people celebrating with you. Celebrate them. Name some of the things you appreciate about them and your relationship. Ideally, we do this all year, but the holidays are a great time to remember.