As I was wishing a colleague my usual happy wishes for this time of year – she responsed, “Yeah, ‘tis the season for forced gaiety.”

I laughed. But her comment really caused me to reflect on the upcoming holidays.

During the holidays, we’re expected to spend time with people we may not like. There is no way to avoid it because these unlikable people are relatives. We’re supposed to smile and go along with it.

So, what do you do?

1- Make a pack with your best friend that you can text them at any time to vent. When there is someone you can share your frustration with it stops the build-up which could easily lead to an explosion of emotions.

2- Identify topics which are off-limits. This year, politics seems to be the hot button. Let your guests know that topic is off-limits and any other topics you determine may create tension.

3- Identify conversation changers. Some ideas include:

How did you start your career in your industry?

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?

What are your top 5 favorite movies?

4- Start a conversation with someone else. If the relative you’re talking with is pushing your buttons, excuse yourself and move to another room. Find another person who is easier to have a conversation with and will not aggravate you.

5- Take a walk when conversations get your blood rising. You can always say, “I’m starting my New Year’s resolution early.” Who can argue with that statement?

While this time of year is supposed to be filled with being happy, some of us are filled with dread. Having to spend time with people you don’t like is difficult but sometimes necessary, especially to keep peace in your marriage. Since there’s no way to avoid it, follow our suggestions. If nothing else, it’ll be good material to laugh with your friends afterwards.

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Niv PersaudNiv Persaud, CFP®, CDFA™, CRPC®, is the Founder of Transition Planning & Guidance, LLC. Life is more than money. It’s about living the lifestyle you want and can afford. For that reason, Niv consults with clients on money, life, and work. Her approach capitalizes on techniques she learned throughout her career, including as a management consultant, executive recruiter, and financial advisor. Her services include spending plan, financial plan, divorce financial review, life strategy, and professional progression. Niv actively gives back to her community through her volunteer efforts. She believes in living life to the fullest by cherishing friendships, enjoying the beauty of nature, and laughing often — even at herself. Her favorite quote is by Erma Bombeck, “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say ‘I used everything you gave me’.”