Who Pushes Our Buttons Better Than Our Family? A Dallas Organization Wants To Keep Harmony in the Holiday 

Safe Conversations, which started as a social experiment in Dallas, has now trained 575,000 in 24 countries. Now, in a year loaded with intensity and triggers, it wants to help people navigate Thanksgiving Day conversations.

Who can better push our buttons than our family? DFW-based Safe Conversations hopes to help people keep harmony during the holidays.

After meeting with a group of colleagues in 2010 to discuss how to make relationship education more accessible to the public, DFW-based Harville Hendrix, Ph.D., and Helen LeKelly Hunt, Ph.D., began a project to do just that.

The project was started in Dallas and saw success from the very beginning. The organization Safe Conversations was born from it soon after and now has an office in the Oak Lawn area. Since then, the program has trained 575,000 people in 24 countries, according to a statement.

The holiday season often brings heightened expectations and anxiety with it, with 2020 being a year filled with even more stress than usual. To face the season head-on, Safe Conversations has created a relationship education program specific to the time of year. 

During the Thanksgiving Workshop, Safe Conversations will help attendees learn how to discuss difficult topics without conflict, make sure people feel seen and heard, understand what’s going on with other people, and make it through the ongoing pandemic together.

The virtual event will happen on November 21, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and will be hosted by Safe Conversations co-creators Hendrix and Hunt. To learn more about the event, go here.

In the meantime, here are some tips on how to make safe conversations this Thanksgiving, courtesy of Safe Conversations:

  1. Create safety. Set an expectation for zero negativity—and create a nonjudgmental signal for when something lands as negative.
  2. Share your appreciation. Build connections up front by thanking each person for making time in their busy lives to be together.
  3. Listen with intention. And, ask if you’ve got what’s being said. Try something like: “Wow, that’s amazing. Let me see if I got that. You said… Did I get that?”
  4. Express curiosity by saying “tell me more!”
  5. Validate with authenticity. No matter whether you agree, it’s important to remember that everyone makes sense. Imagine what would happen if, instead of responding with a rebuttal, you validate! Try: “Hey, you know, when you say it like that, you really make sense.”
  6. Empathize when needed. Offer true connection by imagining how another person must feel, like “I imagine you must feel…. Is there more about how it feels?”
  7. When the going gets tough. Confrontations are bound to occur when we gather with our loved ones. When you experience a rupture, request time together to explore the topic that’s triggered you. This might look like: “Maybe there’d be a good time for us to talk more about this topic. Now? Later?”
  8. Laugh. Ask if you can share a funny story about holidays past. Laughing banishes negativity, in a heartbeat.
  9. Love. After you connect, make contact with each other. Hug, High Five or shake hands and say: “Hey, thanks for sharing. Being connected means a lot to me.”
  10. Offer an appreciation as a post-dinner party game. There is nothing more profound than actively hearing a positive word about yourself, and even greater is the gift of offering that appreciation.

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