Turkey Talk: When all of the gobble gabble makes you want to tell them to stuff it.

The majority of the house may be toasty from the residual kitchen heat, but around the table the temperatures are frosty.  Despite the glittering candlesticks and perfectly prepared potatoes, once again, one of your relatives has managed to push you to the say-one-more-word-and-the-turkey-won't-be-the-only-carcass-on-the-table point.

Fear not - you're not alone.  And though you can't control their behavior, you can at least be prepared for their worst.

 Managing Bad Manners: 

The Scene:  Whether it's the uncle who always feels the need to put down your career, the grandparent who wants to know when you're planning to get married or get pregnant, a parent or sibling who takes jabs at your appearance, job or lifestyle, or even the cousin who insists on dusting off the ol' soapbox for a fascinating political rant that lasts throughout two whole courses, preparation is key.  If there is a topic that comes up regularly, have a few responses ready so that you're not left fuming and at a loss for words when the time comes.

1. Don't answer or blatantly change the subject.  Don't feel like you have to answer any rude questions or engage any ignorant statements.  Avoidance is completely acceptable, and sometimes - if you're lucky- can quell the situation right there (assuming the person in question is self-aware enough to be embarrassed). 

Uncle Frank: So, when do you think you're going to quit that art-stuff and get a real job? 
You (After a pause, and smiling sweetly) : Uncle Frank, what are YOU thankful for this year?
- OR - 
You (with a stare at Uncle Frank and a moment of awkward silence; then turning to someone else): Aunt Mary, this casserole is delicious.  Who taught you to cook?

2.    Repeat their question back to them or politely challenge their asking. Sometimes just repeating the question, slowly and deliberately back to them is enough to give them pause.  Make sure to maintain eye contact when you speak.

Grandpa Joe: Putting on a little weight there, aren't you? 
You: I'm sorry, what did you just ask me? 
- OR - 
Did you really just ask that? 
- OR -  
Is there a reason that I should answer that?
- OR -  
Why do you need to know?

3.  Make a joke out of it.  The ability to turn someone's intended arrow into your own fodder is invaluable.  It takes the sting out of their words, and puts all of the power back in your court. That said, it's a skill that generally takes some time to develop.  And remember to temper any rudeness of your own - let the other person be the jerk (a smile and a wink help tremendously).  If you're not sure you're ready to rely on spur of the moment wit, have a few pre-planned answers in your arsenal. 

Aunt Lisa:  Are you planning to get married anytime soon? 
You: Then who would all of my married friends live through vicariously?
Cousin Devon: So how much are you making at that job?
You: Half what I'm worth. (I take it the corner's still treating you well?)
Devon, you realize that was your "out loud" voice, right? 
Your older oh-so-perfect sister: When are you guys going to get around  to having a baby? 
You: We're still a little confused as to how the process works.  Maybe you could explain it to everyone? 
- OR
 Currently we're just enjoying the practice.  
- OR -   
As soon as your husband commits to a date.

 4.  Be direct. If the disrespect continues, be your own ally.  Take a breath, and inform the person that they are being rude and hurtful and these comments or questions need to stop.  You can do this in private, or, if you feel brave enough, right there in front of everyone.  Remember to stay calm and even and not engage in any sort of misbehavior on their part.  As much as you may not want to, Be the Better Person.  Trust me - people will remember that. 

You (to the offender): While your intentions may have been benign, I find these questions/comments offensive.  You need to stop.  
- OR - 
 These questions are out of line.  If they continue, I will need to leave. 

5. Leave.  If all else fails, just go.  Family gatherings are important, but not as important as your well-being.  The great thing about being an adult is that we're finally in the position to say "Enough" and then act on it.  Hopefully the offenders will start recognizing the boundaries and respecting them, and a relationship can be altered and improved.  But if not, it is THEIR loss. 

“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength.”- Eric Hoffer

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