We are going to be gathering with family in just under a week, some of us will be seeing far flung, extended family. The question of what we have been up to is bound to come up. Just like the other clichéd questions of when are you going to settle down for the preternaturally single family member; when are you going to have kids to the young married family members; and so on.
The next step, once you have answered that you are in job transition at the moment, is bound to be the advice. So and so did this and landed a great job, x worked for me – I don’t have to go on, you get advice from all sides practically every day. Job search is one of those parts of life that everyone has formulated an opinion about. Even if they have never experienced it.
Don’t let your dread and trepidation for this conversation ruin this chance to gather with family and give thanks. No one knows what the coming year will bring and family is also a blessing.
Be prepared to thank the person for the suggestion, smile and change the subject to find out what they have been up to since you saw them last. If you are pressed, you can say that you have a policy to give yourself time to think about these sorts of suggestions after the fact, when you can really reflect. If you say it in a way that makes it clear to them that what they have said deserves some thought on your part, then they should be pleased and let the subject drop for now.
Most likely their motive is to be helpful to you, and argument means rejection and hurt feelings all around. But listening and then responding that their idea requires reflection later gives both of you an opportunity. With that later reflection, you may actually be able to come to the conclusion that all or some of their idea has merit in your own search and they will feel pleased at being able to help you.
You need to have the opportunity, later on your own, to sift through what has been presented and look for the parts that have meaning to you. This cannot be done in the moment, in front of the snack table or while watching the game.
A little forethought now can lead to a better family gathering. Something to be thankful for in this month of gratitude.
Beth Anne Reed has a background in Customer Relations, Process & Project Management and a deep interest in Written Communications.
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