Prep for the Holidays: Hard Holiday Conversations – 8 Steps to get from Oh! to Ho, Ho!

– By Liz Lawrence, MA, LPC-S

  Pt 3 of 3 :

Next time join in for these blogs: Hope-Fires – keeping hope glowing over the holidays; Gift that Keeps Giving – Order; Ditch the Awkward Talk While Dating Over the Holidays; and Looking forward to 2018



Hello Reader. We all have them around this time of year – that hard conversation that either has to be had over the holidays or the holidays bring it out. Either way, here’s 8 steps to help you with the goal of growing and strengthening the relationship.


8 Steps to Hard Conversations:

  1. Recognize it’s time – if you are reading this you are already on your way as you’ve done the first step fo recognizing it’s time to talk.
  2. Pray – I believe and know that prayer works because I know God is real and he cares for me. If you are growing in your relationship with God, you might feel a bit odd about this one, so I encourage you to tell God where you are at with him too. Maybe that might sound like, “God I love this person and I’m not sure about you yet but I know you created us so please help us with this conversation so we can continue to grow together.” And while you’re at it, maybe ask God to help you get to know him better.
    1. For other person – praying for the other person helps you set your heart and your tone
    2. For your own hurt and/or forgiveness – if this is a hard conversation there is probably some hurt or need for forgiveness. Confess where you felt hurt, agree that it hurt, ask for healing and to help you see where you might have hurt the other person.
    3. For strength and growth in the relationship – this also helps you to realize the goal of the conversation.
  3. Find the time – ask the other person when you might be able to sit down, or go for a walk, or talk while doing some holiday activity together
  4. Clarify expectations and hopes –realize you have the same goal in mind but are going about it differently. Then understand you have spoken and unspoken unexpectations about whats going to happen next. Be clear about this with yourself and if necessary confess or share those expectations to the other person, with no demands on them being met. Hope might be more stable, solid, or consistent than the expectation, or it might be less demanding. An expectation might sound like, “I expect that we will be fine after this.”, while a hope might sound like, “I hope we can continue to grow together.”
  5. Set the rules
    1. Use I Feel statements – I feel apprehensive…, I feel protective…, I feel defensive…, etc.
    2. Use Confession statements – I’m sorry…, I really blew that…, I can see my part…, My reactions were extreme….
    3. Use Comfort statement – I need to calm down, can you make things safer…, I hear what you are saying…, I’m with you…, I’m not going anywhere…, I’m listening…,
    4. Determine what’s ok to bring up and what’s not ok.
    5. Agree on the amount of time to talk about this topic
    6. Agree if either one of you feel overwhelmed or need a break, to take a short 5-15 minute break and then return to discuss
  6. Listen then respond – ever see the movie Hitch? Great tip for listening to the other person and then respond to what they say. Don’t be thinking how you will react or what you want them to understand. Both go into the conversation with the intention of seeking to understand the other person. Along the way you will both be understood.
  7. Be willing to be wrong – sure we all want to be right or at least be heard. Be willing to be wrong about what you though, about what you heard, about what you got upset about. When you are willing, you are available for healing.
  8. Set the next step(s) – leave the conversation with an agreement on what you will both do next: revisit the topic, get toegterh again for fun, connect with another person involved, meet with a counselor to help with the rest of the hurt, etc.


Reader, I hope and expect that these 8 steps will help with that hard conversation. It’s amazing how holidays can blow things out of proportion and also how holidays can set us up for healing. I pray that healing is what you experience this year.

Connect with me and let me know how it goes!





Liz Lawrence, MA, LPC-S is counselor, coach and creative who is passionate about people. She directs a counseling center in Austin, Texas and with husband David Lawrence co-leads the non-profit Renue.Me whose mission is to invest in the dreams of leaders in underprivileged communities around the world. Connect with her at  or


Photo Credits:

Photo from, Graphic on Canva

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