The holidays are an excellent time to bond and strengthen family relationships, however they can also be stressful particularly when dealing with family conflict and differing personalities. Some conflict can arise spontaneously, while other times there may be hurt feelings from the past that present themselves again when you reunite.

Today I want to focus particularly on dealing with family members (or people) that are arrogant, dismissive or have narcissistic tendencies. Because dealing with and being around those with these traits can be particularly challenging.

Here’s how to deal with arrogant family members during the holidays…

The narcissistic and arrogant aunt, brother or cousin

Some have family members that are just arrogant and annoying, while others may actually have narcissism that runs in the family. Oftentimes these traits overlap because someone who is narcissistic is arrogant and dismissive.

A person with narcissistic traits is someone needing constant praise and attention, someone who displays a constant sense of entitlement, or someone who exploits others without feeling guilty.

Narcissists lack the ability to identify with other people’s feelings, or to put themselves in their shoes. They lack empathy.

There are two main types including:

  • The vulnerable narcissist who is self centered and self-absorbed, only to mask a weak inner core.

  • The grandiose narcissist who truly believes they are the greatest thing ever.

It’s important to realize that confident people know their values and beliefs. They don’t have to put others down to make themselves feel better and they don’t compare their worth to other’s successes and failures.

Arrogant people, whether narcissistic or not, often lack confidence. They fear what others think of them or being seen as incompetent.

How to manage your emotions and deal with arrogant people

Before you spend the holidays together this year, or attend the family Christmas party or event, consider these tips

Listen before speaking. Even if you’re angry or annoyed being around an arrogant person, listen before speaking. Oftentimes these people need to be heard, so you might be able to diffuse their competitive energy by summarizing what they say with as little emotion as you can. You can also ask them to hear your thoughts or perspective on the conversation.

Watch your words. Try to avoid starting sentences with “clearly” or “obviously” when you get annoyed. This will only aggravate them.

Try to stay positive. If you are around someone that gets pleasure from watching others suffer, then stay positive and try to point out the positive in situations or conversations. Recognize that they may have low self-esteem and truly might need help.

Give up your need to be heard. State your perspective without being pushy or right. If you cannot agree, simply say “I see we disagree,” and move on.

Instead of competing with arrogant people, stay calm and model what confidence looks like. It’s not worth ruining Christmas or your holiday family gathering.