Thanksgiving has never been on of my favorite holidays.  I don’t like turkey or NFL Football and I’ve joked many times that I have to see my family but no one gives me a gift for it. That being said, Thanksgiving has been a blessing to me for one big reason: Practice.

When I say practice, I’m not talking about competitive eating, I’m talking about the elusive skill of dealing with people.

The ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee and I will pay more for that ability than for any other under the sun.

John D. Rockefeller

I don’t think old John D. was alone in this view. Being able to effectively deal with people is the most valuable skill in the market place. Here’s how I use Thanksgiving as practice:

Crazy Uncle Arguments

We’ve all got that crazy uncle that loves to bait us into an argument. Sure you can win, but at what cost? When one of these arguments comes up, I like to practice my restraint, compliment their point of view and move on. There’s a time and a place for political debate, but waiting on the dinner rolls to be passed isn’t one of them.

First Impressions

I’ve been married for 13 years, and while there isn’t much of my wife’s family that I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet, there are those that I only see once a year. I use these as an opportunity to practice making a great first impression. I work especially hard at being authentic, being present, and being curious. These little sessions pay off when I’m meeting potential clients for the first time because the skills have polish.

Back Handed Compliments and Insults

If you don’t have a passive aggressive person in your family that loves to wrap subtle digs inside of compliments, consider yourself lucky. It’s tempting in these moments to retaliate to sarcasm with more sarcasm, but I find it more helpful to use it as practice. Workplace politics makes being able to deal with insults a great skill to have. When my aunt tells me that I make my weight work well me, I can respond with a thank you rather than verbally tearing her apart. It makes it easier the next time a coworker tries a similar “compliment”.

Dealing with family can be stressful no matter how much we love them. It’s one of the biggest reasons I’ve turned it into practice. If I can make it work with them, I’ll be golden when I have to deal with people at work.

In all seriousness, Thanksgiving is a time for gratitude for the things in our lives that make it worth living. Among my many blessings, I count all of you that read, comment and like these posts, videos and quote cards. I’m truly thankful for your enthusiasm and encouragement. Happy Thanksgiving. 


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