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Unity in the Community

Dr. Jody Janati

Dr. Jody Janati

The holidays are here, and for many people, it can be an emotional time of year. One common winter goal is to have a drama-free holiday season. There is an adage that states, “People hurt the people they love the most.” However, it may be more accurate to say, “People should on the people they love the most.”

Interactions can often be difficult when multiple points of view are present. The good news is there are also choices within these situations, which include reacting on the spot or responding mindfully to another’s differing point of view. Individuals can benefit by mindfully choosing their responses to loved ones when tensions start to get high. Most people are more alike than they are different, and generally, people want to like themselves in the mirror at the end of the day.

By limiting the use of reactive language, which merely causes resistance, individuals can consciously create a more peaceful holiday season. Preplan your precious moments by choosing to eliminate the following words from all conversations and this will allow for smoother discussions as you gather with others this winter: should, shouldn’t, need to, have to, must, don’t, stop, not, and ought to. One may nearly abolish drama by incorporating three new words into their vocabulary. In the spirit of non-violent communication, the first two words, “feeling” and “need”, have been shown to have a neutral impact on stressful discussions. For example, rather than name calling or labeling someone during an intense difference of opinions, one might say, “I feel frustrated by what you just said and need some time to process it/calm down.” The third alternative is to simply replace resistant words with the word “prefer”. Rather than saying, “You need to get ready for dinner; take a seat now,” one might say, “I would prefer that everyone start moving to the dining room; we are about to eat.” Instead of saying, “Stop swearing; don’t talk like that,” one could say, “I would prefer that we refrain from using that language.”

Help loved ones feel validated and included this holiday season and everyone will thrive! May you find your own “conversation peace!”

Dr. Jody Janati is a trainer, speaker, conference facilitator and author with a degree in Organizational Leadership. She offers public and professional workshops on conflict reduction tactics and effective communication skills. To learn more about Janati’s work, visit

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