Tis the Season for Negative Comments

Family gatherings are such a joy for those out of work. There’s nothing like the a room full of friends and family members to bring out tons of inquiries on your job search efforts (usually in the form of “got a job yet?”), comments on how bad the economy is, suggestions on what you should be doing differently, and remarks about how you should or shouldn’t be spending your money this season. Ahhhhh, comfort food for the soul.

Before you give into the temptation to pour eggnog over the heads of some, keep in mind the intentions of those involved. Most of these people love and care about you. So why are they saying things that beat you down? It could be a few things. For one, they may naturally want to help you and you haven’t given them a way to do so. You haven’t specifically shared with them connections or ideas they may have access to that would enhance your efforts. If they have any knowledge you are under stress, there is naturally going to be a desire to want to help physically or mentally. If what they are offering in terms of help is off the mark, tell them so in a nice way and suggest alternatives.

Some might say avoiding the topic completely would be best. To accomplish that, you have to first ask yourself what signals have you been giving your friends and family members over the course of time. Has your job search and lack of employment dominated your world to the point it’s the only part of yourself you’ve shared with others freely? Are you so entrenched in the negative people are giving it back to you as a reflex? Often times what people say to us is in response, in some way, to what we’ve said to them first. People often mirror the actions, demeanor and words of others subconsciously. Before you judge those around you for not letting it go or for continually reminding you how awful things are, replay some of your own words and actions and consider if you’ve invited this on yourself.

For those who want a more positive experience over the holidays, I have two suggestions. One, come up with strategic ways your friends and family members can help in your job search and use the time with them to plant seeds. If that doesn’t interest you, come up with succinct and kind conversation redirects.

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