How to Prepare for Difficult People

How is your holiday going? If you separated or divorced this year, you need to make advance plans on how you will cope with difficult people during the holidays. So when nosy Aunt Ruth asks how much alimony you are getting or cousin Ralph tries to tell you how to hide assets to make your equitable distribution “more equitable,” or you can’t handle even one more friendly whisper asking how you are doing, you will have an action plan.

For the Generalists who come up and look at you with soulful eyes and say, “How are You doing, really?” or don’t even ask and plunge into your personal issues as if they are up for a vote, feel free to say “Everything has a time and place and I’d really love to have a holiday not thinking about those things. I’d much rather hear about what’s going on with you.”

For the Nosy People who are asking about things that are not and never will be any of their business, you should not answer their questions. Again, it is better to be polite, these are people you are going to see again. “I hope you understand that things like money are a little too personal for me to want to discuss right now.” If they persist, so should you. “I know you want me to have a good holiday, so let’s discuss something else.”

For Advice Givers, who want to tell you all the things you should do, deflect them. “ You certainly have a lot of ideas, but I think I’ll just go with my lawyer’s advice right now.” If they persist in telling you more, you can tell them “Well, so far so good, but if it looks like I’ll need your information, I’ll be sure to call.”

For Yourself. Be truthful with yourself. If you can’t make it through the yearly party with your college friends, don’t go. If a party with strangers sounds like torture, stay home. Bite your tongue. It’s easy to get drawn into a conversation about your ex spouse. Don’t do it. It’s the holidays not a bash the ex spouse party. Don’t make a fool of yourself. You don’t need to drink too much, laugh too loud, hit on the other guests, or burst into tears. Allow yourself to be hugged. Your family loves you. They want to show they care. Your family is there for you, accept their support and their love; even if it means they won’t be perfect in giving it.

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