Winter Wellness Challenge – Week 3

Conflict: Being Proactive vs. Reactive

Welcome to week 3 of the Winter Wellness Challenge.

It’s that time of year again – the temperature is getting colder, snow is flying, lights are twinkling, and the holidays are here. With expectations high, it may be a challenge to navigate difficult family dynamics. For many, this will be the first time in three years that extended family will be gathering to celebrate the holidays together. Preparing for this may feel burdensome. You are not alone! Navigating difficult family relationships and conflicts during the holidays is a worldwide challenge. This year, we want you to have the tools to be proactive!

Step one, understanding the role of blame. Sometimes blame fuels a conflict, and understanding how this happens, may help you to avoid unnecessary stress in your relationships. Watch:

What is blaming all about? – Brene Brown (<4 min.)

Consider: What is the role of blame in your conflicts?

Step two, understanding the power of listening. Listening may be the most important skill to reduce and manage conflict more effectively. Watch:

It’s Not About the Nail – the power of listening – Jason Headly (<2 min)

Consider: How important is being heard, to you, to others?

Additional suggestions for managing conflict this holiday:

  • When speaking, use “I” statements to convey your point of view.
  • Acknowledge and clarify what the other person is saying by stating “what I hear you saying is…”.
  • Identify areas of agreement when possible.
  • Remain calm, your emotions are contagious.
  • Engage in professional conflict resolution if parties agree.


You can pick your friends, but you cannot pick your family. For this week’s challenge, we suggest that you contemplate ways in which you can practice being proactive in your approach to potential family conflict during this holiday.  

  1. Set aside time to consider potential conflicts that may arise at family gatherings. 
  2. During this time, review and reflect upon the questions below as you prepare.
  3. When you have considered these questions, we challenge you to come up with a plan to address potential concerns proactively.

 Proactive questions to consider prior to family gatherings:

  • What worries you about the gathering, are there potential triggers? 
  • What has helped you cope with stressors in the past? 
  • How could you take responsibility, and manage your response? 
  • Are there any concerns outside your control that you need to let go? 
  • How could you listen more intently – with a genuine desire to understand the other person’s perspective – not problem solve, fix or manage?

Preparation is key to having a happy, healthy, and enjoyable holiday. You determine what will work best for you.

“Blame is a mental trap. Flip the script. Free yourself. Take responsibility, this is taking your power back; this is your step into personal empowerment.” – Brene Brown

Bonus Content:

How to Survive Family Conflicts During the Holidays

How to handle conflict during the holidays (without burning bridges) (12 min.)

If you would like to explore professional conflict management, C&FS EAP, along with our partner program, C&FS Center for Resolution and Justice, may be able to provide support.  One option for your family may be to engage in a Facilitated Dialog Circle (FDC). An FDC is a facilitated process, in the tradition of Restorative Justice Practices, that brings family members together for a structured conversation, focused on a harm or harms that have occurred, emphasizing ways to repair relationships. This process can be especially useful for families dealing with elder care challenges including healthcare decisions, selling the family home, placement in care facilities and more.  Call 716-681-4300 for more information.

In case you missed it:

Winter Wellness Challenge – Week 1 – Prioritizing Self-Care

Winter Wellness Challenge – Week 2 – Managing Grief and Loss

Reach out:

As always – if you would like to discuss this topic, or any other concern, please reach out to C&FS EAP to speak with one of our staff for assistance.  Please call 716-681-4300 or complete the intake form here:

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