Negotiating Past Family Drama During the Holidays Part II

Are you struggling with family drama during the holidays? Fret no more. This mini 2-part series is designed to help you navigate the holidays to minimize family drama … or at least your engagement in the drama. Contrary to popular belief, you can take control of your holiday experience. 

In Part I, we set the stage with some foundational mindset items, including (i) recognizing that you’re in a negotiation; (ii) recognizing that you may experience the full range of emotions; (iii) negotiating your mindset; (iv) setting an intention; and (v) embracing the gift of gratitude. Today, we’re going to explore some simple models to help you negotiate family dynamics. 

Before we jump to the models, allow me to remind you to negotiate your environment as well as your mindset. What do I mean by that? 

  1. Get active during the holidays and get outside.

It’s easy to make excuses to stay cozied up but working a little activity into your holiday routine and embracing a good dose of fresh air will energize you and make you more productive and engaged. 

  1. Manage your food choices – indulge in moderation.

This simple practice can reduce brain fog and useless self-flagellation while increasing energy, productivity, and engagement.

  1. Get sleep and be present.

Plan so you’re not scrambling at the last minute and make a point of getting enough sleep through the holidays so that you can greet each day being fully present. 

  1. Manage your travel. 

It can seem like we spend much of our holiday time on the road or in the air, travelling. Consider, with intention, which visits feel like an obligation versus which fill you with joy. Negotiate where and how you choose to spend your time. 

  1. Manage your money.

In a world where we’re inundated with marketing messages telling us we need more, it’s easy to fall into the trap of empty over-spending. Instead, consider sharing experiences with the people you love. The things we buy disappear but the memories we create last a lifetime. 

  1. Manage your space.

An uncluttered space can help unclutter your mind and give you space to show up with more grace. 

And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for … 

Here’s a few simple models to help you negotiate family dynamics during the holidays. Families are typically one of our greatest sources of negative triggers. There is so much history and unresolved baggage, we can revert to old patterns that don’t serve us. By elevating your negotiation skills you can show up as the best version of yourself and increase your chances of getting better outcomes for all. 

  1. No F.E.A.R. Model

In advance of a family get together or anticipated difficult conversation with family, consider your Fears, Ego, Attachment & Reactivity. 

  • Fears (what they are and how they may show up and interfere with best outcomes); 
  • Ego (how does ego show up for you and how can you avoid it to come from a place of empathy); 
  • Attachment (what things you’re likely to be attached to and how you might be more flexible and open to understanding the other person’s perspectives and needs); 
  • Reactivity (what triggers cause you to become reactive and how can you prepare to avoid or neutralize reactivity). 

Do the same exercise vis-à-vis the other person. We often approach family members with built-in old assumptions based on our history with them and forget to check in to consider their perspective. 

Here's a link to grab a free copy of my No F.E.A.R. Negotiating ebook if you want to take a deeper dive on this issue. 

  1. 5W Model

In advance of an interaction/negotiation with a family member, consider Who, What, Where, When & Why with intention.  

  • Who do you want to show up as? Who is the other person likely to show up as? Who are they expecting you to show up as? Who should be involved in the discussion and who should be excluded if possible? 
  • What outcomes do you seek (in terms of substance and relationship)? What strategies will best serve to secure those outcomes? What questions can you ask to get better buy-in. 
  • Where should the discussion take place? Setting is important (in novels and in life). Consider your setting with intention. What environment will best serve to get better outcomes? 
  • When should the discussion take place? Consider the timing with intention. As kids we intuitively knew to use timing to our advantage, but as adults, when the stakes are arguably much higher, we often forget this important factor. 
  • Why is the issue important to you? Consider both your deeper why and the why likely driving the other person. Stated needs are typically the tip of the iceberg. It’s the deeper why that lies under the surface that will move the dial to better results. Knowing your deep why allows you to bring emotional resonance to a negotiation without being emotional. 

Here’s a link to grab a free copy of my 5 Secret Weapons to Effective Negotiation ebook if you’re ready to dive deeper into this powerful model. 

  1. A.R.E. F.I.T. Model

The A.R.E. F.I.T. model is a powerful negotiation tool generally, and especially when dealing with family. 

Invoke the six key skills of effective negotiators in each negotiation:

A Assertiveness

Assertive does not mean aggressive. Assertiveness comes from confidence. Confidence comes from knowledge. Knowledge comes from preparation. Prepare for your negotiations with your family as you would for a high stakes business deal. 

R Rapport-building

Consider how you can build rapport at the outset of the negotiation/interaction. Building connection leads to better outcomes. We often ignore this important step when dealing with family, assuming that our history makes it irrelevant. It is arguably even more important in navigating the dangerous waters of family dynamics. 

E Empathy

Put yourself in the shoes of the other person. Try to truly understand their position and needs. You don’t have to agree, but it’s important to understand. With family, we often assume we already know what they’re thinking and what they want. Let go of those assumptions. Listen. Reflect back what they say. Ask questions. Let them feel seen, heard, and understood. It will pay off. 

F Flexibility

Be open to creative outcomes other than what you had in mind. There may be even better solutions or options than you anticipated. 

I Intuition

Trust your intuition. If your inner voice is screaming that you ought to avoid saying what you were thinking, perhaps you ought to listen. 

T Trust

Building trust is the foundation of any relationship and is key to getting better negotiated outcomes. Be intentional about how you can build trust. We often assume with family that trust is automatically there. This is a mistake. Old unresolved family wounds often require more attention and effort to re-establish trust.  

Last Words

These simple tips can make a world of difference in how you experience and enjoy the holidays. Hope you found some value in them. Set your intentions and live into a more joyful, engaged holiday season.


Are you looking to up level your negotiation skills?

Please enjoy my TEDx Ocala talk
- Rise of the Feminine Voice as the Key to Our Future-  

rise of the feminine voice cindy watson tedx ocala

Click to play

How to Get What You Want from the Boardroom to the Bedroom

Negotiation skills are a woman’s secret weapon.

Art of Feminine Negotiation debunks myths and multi-generational gender conditioning that have stopped women from fully stepping into their power. Uncover the unconscious biases that have limited women from becoming the biggest and best versions of themselves. 


Learn the key skillsets that mark superior negotiators, explore how women already possess these skills in spades, and master how to start invoking these essential skills with intention in everyday life.


Be present, family drama, foundational mindset, Manage your money, moderation, Negotiation

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