The Power of Leadership

Executive Vitality™: A Recipe for Good Holiday Gatherings

Executive Vitality™: A Recipe for Good Holiday GatheringsPicture yourself at a holiday dinner with your family and friends. Along with recipes for yams and green beans, this kind of event is often a recipe for sparking up feelings—some warm and good, some stressful and not so good. This results in cooking up an abundance of “escape plans” in the forms of food, alcohol, and football—and, today we have another cool one—our smartphones.

In our coaching practice, we recommend executives have a “vitality plan” for vacations and holidays—and we think it’s a good idea to get specific about cell phone and tablet usage. It is important to set expectations and show sensitivity to the likelihood that “the generations” may have different perceptions about answering a cell phone during family gatherings.

Electronics are extremely helpful to us and can provide the ultimate escape, which is OK sometimes. The key is knowing how the use of cell phones can affect others around you. Harvard Business Review published an article called: What you’re hiding from when you constantly check your phone, see if it reminds you of someone you know – who may possibly be escaping from family or difficult conversations. One concept the author talks about is “feeling out of touch” when your cell phone is not in reach. However, it is good to remember that focusing on the phone rather than on the ones you are with is the ultimate in being out of touch.

Here is another article you might be interested in: Reasons cell phone usage reduces happiness. It could be an interesting discussion topic amongst the generations at dinner.

Try these suggestions for doing less phone-time and more personal interacting.

  1. First, make your own resolution about your cell phone usage during the holidays.
  2. Tell your friends and family you are deliberately staying away from your phone … and tell them why. Hopefully it will also encourage others to jump on the bandwagon.
  3. Discuss cell phone usage with your family and come to an agreement about what constitutes appropriate—or inappropriate—use of the phone while in each others’ company.
  4. Make a list of things to talk about with the people you are going to be with—such as their latest accomplishments, vacation plans anyone might have—whatever is going on in their lives will be good topics of conversation.
  5. Think about fun things to do together. Charades anyone? Poker? Trivial Pursuit? Do something that results in gales of laughter rather than hyper-competitiveness. Depending on the company, a little competition can be good. Not a game-playing family? Photo albums are always pleasers.

Afterwards, ask yourself: What was different at this family or friends gathering? Is it worth doing again? How could I improve the experience for next time?

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