Twelve Ways to Play Nicely in the New Year
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Here we are again, at the beginning of a new year, planning to make a fresh start—break old habits and create new routines. But first we have to get past the holiday blues and stresses. It’s a proven fact that the holidays are the most stressful time of the year, causing shattered nerves and short tempers. This can wreak havoc on platonic friendships, co-worker interactions, family harmony, and romantic relationships.

The following are 12 steps to take on the road to fighting fair and keeping peace in the New Year:
  1. No yelling, hitting, or threatening. Intimidation is the coward’s way of resolving problems.
  2. Respect the feelings of others as valid, even if you disagree with them. Just because you don’t agree with someone else’s reasoning doesn’t mean they’re wrong.
  3. Stay on the subject until there’s some kind of resolution. When we don’t stick to the point, the person trying to listen can become confused, impatient, and resentful. Don’t bring in other problems or old fights. If you’ve forgiven each other’s past mistakes, you mustn’t revisit old issues.
  4. Attack the problem, not the person. Use “I” language. The word “you” is sure to cause someone to become defensive. The minute we hear “You did this” or “You did that,” we feel we’re being judged, and the automatic reaction is to defend rather than discuss.
  5. Listen without interrupting or plotting what you’re going to say in retaliation. Interrupting will only succeed in lengthening the conflict.
  6. This is not a laughing matter. Many of us think a little friendly teasing or sarcastic remark will add levity or reduce tension. On the contrary, making light of the situation implies you aren’t taking the other party seriously.
  7. Restate what you heard. If you repeat the other person’s message correctly, their reaction will most often be “He/She did understand me.” Then you can move on to the next issue.
  8. If tempers are flaring and you find yourself losing control, put the discussion on hold and agree to meet back at a specific time when tempers have calmed.
  9. Never argue in public. Take a time out with an agreement to continue the discussion in private. After all, it’s easier to apologize or take back an inappropriate comment when only one person has heard it.
  10. Do not make rash decisions like breaking off the relationship while either party is angry.
  11. Admit your own mistakes. Take responsibility for your contribution in arguments rather than pointing blame. Blaming is a judgment and automatically causes the other person to become defensive.
  12. Look for solutions and compromises. Decide on mutually acceptable solutions for your differences. After all, the best part of fighting is making up.

Let’s all play nice and have a happy and harmonious New Year!


Have a question, a thought, or a story to share (anonymity guaranteed)? Email Christine at

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