• Sandy Reynolds

Christmas thoughts for people-pleasers

Last week I got away to Muskoka and enjoyed a Canadian Winter Wonderland with a good friend. I tried to upload one of my pictures, but I was having trouble with the file size, and the image above is a fair representation.

We talked a lot about all kinds of things in our lives. I don't think there is anything we can't talk about, even when we disagree. It's refreshing not to wonder if you should edit your thoughts before saying anything.

The way we speak to each other is on my mind right now. This week I started a new project. I'm creating a program to help managers and leaders have courageous conversations to create healthy and more vital working environments. I'm sure I'll come up with a better summary of the program as I get into it, but for now, that should give you some idea of what I am working on right now in addition to my book.

I've been thinking about the difference between the two types of conversations. One flows so easily, and one feels like we are working our way across a forest in the snow where the path isn't clear. In the later conversation, you don't quite know if the snow can support you or if you are going to find yourself knee-deep in whatever lies beneath.

One thing I do know is that we long for meaningful, heartfelt conversations in our lives. And when we are fortunate enough to experience them, we want ALL our discussions to be that enriching. Anything less feels shallow and empty to us. (Especially if you identify with the four on the Enneagram as I do!)

Here's the truth, and I hope it helps you as you go into your social gatherings during the holidays. Not every conversation needs to be profound. As much as I encourage truthful conversations, there is a time and place for them.

We don't need to share our thoughts and beliefs with everyone around the table. In fact, when it comes to certain topics, there is wisdom in focusing on enjoying the meal and resisting the temptation to have your traditional Christmas theological or political debate. Has anyone ever changed their opinion?

Exchanges can be thoughtful and kind even if we aren't getting into the depths of life with people. We aren't compromising ourselves by not challenging every thought, and opinion expressed.

If you dread gathering together with people you rarely see and hold little expectation for a deepening relationship, this might help. Instead of looking for ways to be known, look for ways you can discover more about them. Ask a few questions about what you hear that might move the conversation in ways that surprise you. Listen more than you speak.

Recovering from people-pleasing doesn't mean you have to be hard. You can still be warm and friendly, and caring. You don't need to be drawn into conversations that violate your values. You can have boundaries about what you'll talk about and find common ground. Set an intention for your gatherings this year, go with an open mind, and see what happens. We have more in common than we often realize.

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