Getting Out of Awkward Conversations During the Holidays

by Erich Martin

Dec 29, 2018

© Iakov Filimonov | Dreamstime

Tips / Other

Awkward conversations among family at holiday celebrations are just as common as the turkey on the dinner table. Aunts, uncles and grandparents eager to hear about school, work and significant others crowd the discussions, and, often, the ones answering the questions want to extricate themselves as painlessly as possible.


As a semi-recent college graduate, I am painfully aware of the kinds of inquiries family members trot out around the holidays. Here are a few questions you can probably expect to hear this season, and tips on how to cut the conversation short.


If you are still in school, you can guarantee questions about classes and college life will come. Being rude to family members is generally not advisable, but being short and clear that you would rather not have the conversation can go a long way toward giving family members the hint you don’t want to talk about things.


If things are going well, being honest and chipper can diffuse any interest if you are lucky. If not, Aunt Maggie might just feel emboldened.


If you are a recent graduate, be it high school or college, you can bet family members will ask how your job search is coming. If you already found a job, the answer to this one is easy, but keeping your cool around a touchy subject can be tough. Be firm with your family members that this is something you are still working on and have no news to report. If they keep needling, it is probably excusable to be a little curt.


Finally, questions about your relationship status are sure to make an appearance. Similar to the above advice, good news is easy to deliver. Especially prickly family members might not let this one go as easily, though. Be curt, but try not to veer too far into rude territory, as these are still your family members and you still need to spend the holiday with them.


If you are feeling clever, it could be fun to print out memos with snappy answers for each member of your extended family. If you do, leaning in to the joke can get your point across while showing a great sense of humor about the whole thing.


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