There’s that old saying that when you assume, you make an ass out of you and me. At no time is it truer than during the holidays.

Or holidaze, as I am more likely to call this time of year because it’s always kind of a blur.

This post is a PSA to help you stay out of trouble with friends, family, and colleagues.

There are so many potholes to navigate, it’s hard for me to even figure out where I should begin….

Everyone loves the holidays (or doesn’t)

I am not a holiday lover at this point. I would happily have someone knock me out and wake me up on January 3rd.

However, I will try to “fake it ‘til I make it” and make plans with people I would like to see. Chances are I’ll have a fun time, and getting out of the house is always good for me.

Everyone likes their family or has family

I have a big family and yet not one relative invited me for Thanksgiving. The same is likely to hold true for the rest of the holiday season. I am actually neutral with this (after having done a RTT™ session around it), but clients and friends who heard about my situation got triggered and became upset, confused, or sad for me.

The smart people immediately changed the subject because this conversation was going nowhere good.

If you know someone has lost a close family member this year, please be extra kind and gentle with them. The first calendar year after someone passes is incredibly difficult as people remember what they used to do with their loved one, and now need to create new traditions.

Your holiday is their holiday

I can’t believe I have to say this, but I do. Christmas is a Christian holiday and not everyone you meet will be Christian.

Just because there have been decorations up since after Labor Day in some stores, doesn’t mean everyone celebrates Christmas.

But if you do, please enjoy it! I am certainly not throwing shade on your most wonderful time of the year. If it’s your thing – fantastic.

But please don’t assume everyone else celebrates it (see above about assuming).

Everyone else is doing well (or doing terribly)

We tend to extrapolate that people we know are more or less having the same experience we are. This is unlikely to be true.

There is an entire spectrum of human experience. As of this morning, I know one person who will very likely have to foreclose on their house and file for bankruptcy, and someone else who blew out their sales goal and will be getting a bigger bonus than they ever dreamed possible.

Also keep in mind that because someone was doing well the last time you saw them, it doesn’t mean they didn’t just get laid off or have a health diagnosis or get served with divorce papers.

Here’s a strategy that can work well: use open-ended questions such as: “Do you do anything special this time of year?” or “Are you taking any time off before the New Year?” or “How are you feeling about the holidays?”

None of these have tipped your hand or given your perspective about how you feel, so they shouldn’t trigger the other person too much.

Please be kind and careful during this season. You might stop yourself from tripping and falling into a big pothole.