Visiting Family: Communication Expert Joan Craven Helps Put the Merry Back in Your Holidays

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Does the thought of spending time with your family this holiday season have you reaching for the jumbo size of antacids? With a few simple communication tips you can change the way you interact with even your most difficult relative.

Joan Craven's "Got It!: Twenty-One Communication Tips for Busy, Impatient People"

'You can be the person you want to be even when those around you aren’t,' says Craven.

Joan Craven, author of “Got It! 21 Communication Tips for Busy, Impatient People”, offers some great holiday tips.

“Instead of stewing about what Aunt Ethel is going to say to you, plan out some responses to questions that make your blood boil. Be prepared. Plan ahead.”

For instance, “Why haven’t you had children yet?’ Try something humorous. Snap your fingers and say “Gosh, I knew I forgot something.” Then immediately switch the subject to something else. If someone comments, “You always were a chubby child,” you might say, “I’m still trying to grow up to my weight.” Then begin another topic.

Listen to yourself talk. Are you beating yourself up? STOP IT! Be as kind to yourself as you are to others. Get rid of that nasty little voice in your head.

Quit “shoulding” on yourself. The minute you say “should” you are putting your actions into the past and who can change the past? Use words like “Next time” or “From now on.” “I should have known that Shirley was allergic to milk” becomes “Next time, I’ll check with guests for any allergies.”

Eliminate the word “but” because the second you say it, the receiver quits listening and starts trying to think of a reBUTtal. “I’d like to help in the kitchen BUT I am busy wrapping the presents.” Think before you speak and try something like “As soon as I‘m done wrapping, I’d be happy to help” or “That’s a good idea, but I’m going out to catch up with old friends after dinner.” Change to “That’s a good idea. I planned to catch up with old friends after dinner.” Pausing or substituting the word “and” for “but” sounds much more open minded and doesn’t start an argument.

If someone says something rude that catches you off guard and you don’t know how to respond, ask, “What do you mean?” or “Why would you say that?” using a neutral (not aggravated) tone of voice.

This approach will likely cause the person to back down from an aggressive stance and discuss an issue more calmly. If it does not, remember you are only here for a short time, smile, ignore the comment and start a conversation about something else.

“You can be the person you want to be even when those around you aren’t,” says Craven. “You’re the one who decides to be happy or unhappy, angry or not angry, hurt or not hurt. It’s up to you.”

So make this holiday merry and bright. Think before you speak, eliminate “should” and “but” and remember less is more when it comes to talking.

Got It! 21 Communication Tips for Busy, Impatient People (ISBN: 978-1-60976-690-0) is now available for $15 and can be ordered through the publisher’s website or at or

WHOLESALERS: This book is distributed by Ingram Books and other wholesale distributors. Contact your representative with the ISBN for purchase. Wholesale purchase for retailers, universities, libraries, and other organizations is also available through the publisher; please email bookorder(at)aeg-online-store(dot)com.

About the Author: Joan Craven, president of Craven Communications, has been an author, communications consultant, professional speaker, and communications coach for over 30 years. As a popular weekly newspaper columnist, she understands the value of building relationships. Her diverse and growing client base includes health and safety officers, human resource managers, government officials, chartered accountants, engineers, educators, hotel managers, bankers, home builders, parents and grandparents. She has assisted thousands of clients build their repertoire of thoughtful and honest communication skills.

Strategic Book Publishing and Rights Co, LLC

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