Conflict Actually: Conflict Management Tips for the Holidays

To paraphrase a modern Christmas classic film, Love Actually substituting their main theme of ‘love’ with our topic word of ‘conflict’, one can almost hear the prime ministerial tones of Hugh Grant in voiceover, “It’s always there – fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends… if you look for it, I’ve got a sneaky feeling you’ll find that (during the holidays) Conflict actually is… all around.”


Let’s face it; along with the festive cheer, the season’s greetings and such, many holidays are filled with conflict. Whether you’re in line at a department store with the season’s latest must-have or the passive-aggressive gravy boat spill at the forced family gathering, tensions run high during the holidays.

We at MRU Cont. Ed. have asked Shannon Geoffrey, Program Administrator for Business and Professional Education, to provide us with a few mindful tips from our Conflict Resolution courses to help you successfully navigate the trials of your holiday.

“First,” she itemizes, “prepare.” Like a high performance athletics coach, she encourages research and visualization. “Knowing that someone is going to be confrontational or that someone is going to implode, that’s the first step.” Then, she recommends, “Visualizing in your mind what could happen and becoming comfortable with it before it happens.”

What if knowing is not enough? How can you calm the aggressor or diffuse a tense situation? Geoffrey uses paraphrasing. “Summarize what the person is saying. If someone says something that’s ‘way out there’, it’s not about agreeing with them, but it’s just saying ‘I hear you; I just see it this way.”

Then, there are the people who carry the dread of the encounter throughout the holiday. Even while visualizing the encounter and preparing coping techniques, everyone has that one particular sister-in-law who tries to manipulate everyone against them each and every family get-together. This anxiety adds to the normal holiday stresses. “Be very clear and upfront with people.” Geoffrey says.

“Sometimes it takes time. Sometimes you have to step away from that moment and put some space between you and that person in order to come back in a better frame of mind.” This needn’t be solved at the holiday table. Instead, Geoffrey suggests, “Set a period of time; a new year’s resolution to sit down with this person so that they’re in the right frame of mind rather than when they’re in high conflict and thinking irrationally.”

As dutiful parents remind children, “it takes two to tango.” In reality, it can be difficult for all of us to realize, through our egocentric lens, that we ourselves might be the problem. This is where MRU’s Conflict Resolution employs its philosophy of looking inward. Geoffrey thinks everyone must first, “understand yourself in conflict before you can manage others.” She continues, “find out what gets you going and what’s eating (you) up inside. Only then,” she explains, “can we learn the problem.”

“A lot of people get sucked into the emotion.” Geoffrey advises, “We need that introspection to figure out what is it that is creating that emotion and how do I learn how to manage that.” Using techniques like self-talk and journaling, you can gain the skills to manage the moment. “The program teaches you to look inward, but learn what to do outward.”

Like the movie, with time, understanding and a panicked trip to an airport, Conflict Actually teaches us, “people only get together right at the very end.”

-JLove (First Lobster)

Holiday Yoga Therapy

Ray Hawkins is well-balanced. Not only does he inspire as a yoga therapist at MRU Cont. Ed.’s Yoga and wellness program, he has a good handle on how to deal with holiday stress. Ironically, while we collectively aspire to rest and relaxation in our days away, Hawkins notes that, “People actually become sick over the holiday period.”

But why?W16_CE_Blog_Yoga_Therapy_600x400px

“Between 75-92% of all diseases and deaths…were directly related to stress.” He cites several U.S. studies that formed the basis of his graduating paper in Holistic Therapy. Most people ramp up their output as they countdown to the holidays, “many believe they have to work long hard hours, spend money they don’t have, watch t.v. to wind down, drink too much alcohol to cope with pressures…” Hawkins states, “this simply places more stress on the body.”

There’s a definite imbalance to this cycle. “Coming into Christmas,” he regales, “many people have pushed themselves with work, school and other projects to the point of being worn down.” If this sounds familiar, Hawkins advises that the seasonal excesses, “Running around shopping centres, trying to balance budgets and stressing out over who wants what,” is not the recipe for a restful holiday.

He’s a practical guru. Not above all of this, he admits, “I get it. I work with these similar habits myself.” But how does one combat the stresses of the holiday season? “Breathe. Breathe slowly, breathe all the time.” he says. “The mind and body will follow a quiet gentle breath and relax.”

Listening to your body is one of the messages he lives in his everyday practices. Rather than overriding the system with more coffee/tea, opt for a rest or a relaxing walk in nature. You’ll find that how you spend your time leading up to your holiday will help ensure you’re able to actually have a holiday.

“You cannot give what you do not have.“ Hawkins “Fill yourself with health, love, respect and value. Then it all becomes too easy to share that with others.”

Ray has shared with us his Top 5 Tips for Balance during the holidays. To read them all, simply follow us on Twitter @MRUContEd


-by JLove

I Don’t Want to Sell You a Car

Young successful businessman offering a car key. Close-up of driver's hand showing key

I don’t want to sell you a car. I want to sell you the opportunity to learn how to sell cars yourself.

William Gourley is MRU Cont. Ed.’s Automotive Sales Course Instructor and he’s got the mileage to prove that his system works. “Automobiles are not so much wants as they are needs,” he opens with. Here is a man who realizes that our hometown, though steering in the right direction, is not known for it’s accessible and accommodating public transit. With urban sprawl and many inaccessible neighbourhoods, the majority of Calgarians are in a 1-2 car household.

The major reasons people buy cars is lifestyle change, “more kids, less kids, job changes, too much traveling, hard on gas, will not tow new trailer, new technologies and safety options,” are among them. That’s not to mention those who have, “had accidents, major component failures,” or those starry-eyed teens who’ve just been awarded their license to take on the open road. “Cars,” Gourley reminds us, “are needs.”

As a program, Automotive Sales at MRU still has that ‘new car smell’. “It’s an investment,” Gourley states, “not a liability. The top producing dealerships always have consistent training for their team.” With Gourley’s personal contact among dealerships within the industry, there’s likely to be a quick return on the investment for those who take the program.

In a time where job security is a worry, Gourley frames the industry, “In times of a flat economy there is an increased focus on purchasing a used car as opposed to a new one.” However he emphasizes, “even in a slumping economy, people will always need a new vehicle.”

Gourley advises that an enrolment in “late winter or early spring will give you the advantage of gaining experience and preparation for the lucrative spring and summer selling season.”

Automotive Sales is a recession-proof idea for the car-enthusiast on your holiday list.

Registration for our next course in February 2016 is open now. You’ve found the ride you need. The keys are in the ignition. Now, just turn the key and go.