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Steer Confrontation into a Conversation this Holiday Season!


By Doug Shapiro

So, your battle scars have almost healed from Thanksgiving and it’s already time to head back to the family for the winter holidays for more of the same comments:

“I know you write, but what is your REAL job?”

“If you’re a singer, why don’t you go on The Voice?’

“Oh, you’re the struggling actor/starving artist.”

It’s time to turn this around. End the internalization and sabotage these comments cause and bring it back to them in words they can understand. You and I know that what you do for a LIVING is not exclusively the same thing as what you do for money. What we give back to world is of great value and, no matter the pay scale, that is a huge success.

The first step is to understand and accept the viewpoint from which your family is coming. Yes, some of them are toxic and need to be lightly dusted with asbestos, but honestly most of them have good intentions. They have just been conditioned to view “success” in terms of money and fame. In their eyes, the more you have of these two things, the more successful you are. So, when they say these things, odds are that they’re expressing genuine concern for your well-being.

It’s our job to be the grown-ups in this situation. Really listen and acknowledge what they’ve said. Mirror it back to them and then share your view. Share with them your hopes of what you’re looking to bring into the world. And then make sure to ask them about their hopes and what they’re looking to bring into the world.

Steer confrontation into a conversation!

For example:

“Funny. Uncle Bill. Very funny. You’re saying that my “real job” is the one at which I make more money, right? [wait for answer] You’re worried that I’m not going to be a success because I’m not bringing in as high a salary as my brother. I get that. Thanks for being concerned. Truth is, I measure success a little differently. I know that when I’m telling my stories through my [poetry/ sculpting/ songwriting/ acting craft] I’m leaving the world a little better than I found it. Nothing makes me prouder and feel more successful than that. How about you? What’s your greatest pride?”

Amazing things can come from these conversations. Especially when you’re genuinely interested in what your family member has to say.

One time, I was sharing my love for voiceover and commercials with my uncle and then asked about what he enjoyed. He pivoted and said, “You know I’m the Vice President of an advertising agency, right?”

No, I did not. My aunt worked for Nabisco at the time and brought us cookies so you’re darn tootin’ I knew what she did for a living. I had no idea that my uncle was anything but a really good uncle.

Turns out that his agency had its own in-house voiceover casting. I went in and read for them a month later. That opportunity would never have happened had I not started asking him about himself. Not just as my uncle, but about him as a fellow human being with his own goals, hopes and dreams.

This holiday season, I call on you to be the family member for your family that you want them to be for you. Ask them about themselves. Practice conversation that helps them to blossom and then they will witness first-hand the power of what you bring into the world.

Need to practice the art of conversation at a networking event or a one-on-one informational interview? Let’s schedule a 20-minute consult and we’ll talk strategies and systems for authentic networking.



Please share with your peeps!