How to Limit Drama Over the Holidays

During this pandemic, organizing a gathering requires way more conversations and planning.

And — even when people are excellent communicators — I’ve seen best-laid plans end in…

  • Miscommunications
  • Misunderstandings
  • Arguments
  • Disappointments
  • Various types of drama

As I’ve navigated the pandemic social scene, as well as coached my clients through this experience, I’ve realized there is one thing we can do to drastically lower the likelihood of gatherings-gone-wrong:

Turn our implicit assumptions into explicit agreements.

We might, for instance, assume that:

  1. Everyone has the same definition of social distancing
  2. People will feel safe with a certain size of gathering
  3. Your friends or family will all quarantine the same way before your get together
  4. Your guests will send a screen shot of their negative COVID results to your group
  5. People at a party will limit their drinking so they stay properly aware of social distancing throughout the night
  6. And on… and on… and on…

It’s when we don’t name these assumptions and then turn them into agreements that a situation can go awry.

I recently practiced this while out in Boulder, Colorado with a group of friends (nicknamed “the pod”). We created a list of agreements based on the assumptions we were making (think: how we shop at grocery stores, whether or not we dine out, quarantine rules before arrival, etc…).

While the list wasn’t perfect (and is outdated in some ways now that we know more about COVID), it certainly put us on the same page and allowed for a drama-free experience.

If you feel inspired, I invite you to create your own list for your holiday gatherings this year. Let’s stay safe and have lots of fun.

What does it mean to be in our pod?

  • We interact as in normal, non-pandemic times (i.e. hugging, dinner parties, dancing, no mask when we’re together). 
  • When you see folks outside the pod, you:
    • Make sure you and others have on masks if you are six feet apart 
    • Can forego masks if you are outside and more than 8 feet apart
  • When out and about you:
    • Wear an N-95 mask if you are inside and close to others (i.e. if you have to go to the doctor’s office, or are in a building where people are closer to you
    • Are diligent about keeping six feet of distance between you and anyone else (this includes if you’re stopping to ask for directions or other quick interactions)

If people come to visit (i.e. people who are in our pod, but are only staying a short time):

  • They get tested (if they fly, please see directions under flying) 
  • They social distance after their test until they come. 
  • They follow other directions as outlined here

Requirements to be in our pod

  • Get COVID tested and then practice social distancing from everyone except pod members until you arrive 
  • No eating inside restaurants (outside eating only). If you are eating with someone outside the pod, make sure you are 6 feet apart (most tables are not 6 feet wide).
  • Please also:
    • Do not ride in Lyfts or Ubers unless the windows are down and you are wearing an N95
    • Don’t go to the gym
    • If you go grocery shopping, make sure to wear a mask
    • For those who are flying, follow the protocols listed below

Mandatory COVID test:

  • In many places, rapid testing is available that can get you same-day results (**please note that this is sometimes only an option for essential workers or if you’ve been exposed to someone who has COVID**). 

If you are flying to Denver:

  • Note from Meg: people on planes and in airports were not following precautions well when I traveled. Because of this, please get COVID tested a minimum of 24 hours after you arrive
  • Wear an N95 Mask and a face shield when you fly 

If you are driving to Boulder:

  • Take precautions (mask, gloves, hand sanitizer) whenever you stop for gas or to get food

Has this blog been helpful for you? Or have you had an interesting experience turning implicit assumptions into explicit agreements? Leave me a comment below!

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