Family Feud

Photo credit: history

Devil Anse Hatfield & Randolph McCoy – photo:

Let’s talk. You lost at the “family game” over Thanksgiving and are not particularly looking forward to round 2 at Christmas or Hanukah or whatever is your next big family gathering. Actually, the next round will be like round 6 or 14 or even 27 because your family game has been going on for years and you are on a losing streak. It is time to change.

You cannot easily change teams. You are stuck with the family you have and quitting your family entirely is not the best solution. Also, you are outnumbered, unless you have a family of two. If you lost this year to the one and only other person in your family, then while you may not be literally outnumbered you still have a problem.

You cannot change the game entirely, especially if other team members have home field advantage. If you travel to someone else’s home – even your mother’s – to play the game, then there are rules that you can’t make and rules you probably shouldn’t break. Unless you are willing to host the family gathering and set your own ground rules (that may or may not be followed), you will have to be content to play on the visiting team.

Your family game probably includes some activities that you enjoy, like playing charades or touch football. Continue to enjoy those. Also, do your part in the kitchen whether washing dishes or chopping onions or taking out the trash. The elders will think you are adulting even if they do tell you how to do every little thing. If you do some grunt work, you may score a point. Focus on the activities that make you feel engaged and content. However, rather than participate in the ongoing heated political debate in the living room or the gossip on the back porch, find a small child and a coloring book for you both to enjoy in another room. That child will have a good memory of the holiday (and you!) and you have a legitimate reason to avoid the parts of the game that you don’t like.

Stop keeping score. You cannot outwit the cousin who has a triple major in English, philosophy, and ecology, plus a law degree. Just listen to him and nod. He will tire of baiting you and move on to his next victim which is a small victory for you. Don’t engage in the minor conflicts as to who got the best deal on shoes or a sofa. Again, just listen and nod and perhaps learn about a new shopping site. Another small win. When asked about your weight or lack thereof, or a possible marriage, or a potential pregnancy, simply say “I am happy now”. Whether it is 100% true or not, if you stop at that statement you will win that match. If pressed to comment, more – turn the tables – ask with a smile “Are you happy?”

Share your family feuds! Comment below.

Listen and learn

Your advisor told you to update your resume. He didn’t mean just change the color. Get help if necessary, but craft a polished, legible, accurate, scan-worthy, e-mailable, honest, paper-based resumé. It won’t guarantee a job, but it may get you in the door for an interview. There are some free sources for resumé-writing assistance, such as a school you recently attended or a literate, working friend. There are also paid services that will analyze or even fully re-write your current resume. Choose a path and get that resumé redone.

You asked for advice from a trusted source about how to get a job. You were given good advice. You didn’t follow it. Why? Because you didn’t really listen and learn. You turned off your ears as soon as he told you to re-write your resumé. You really shut down when he mentioned changing your hair or clothes or Instagram. Maybe you should replay that conversation because last time you checked you didn’t have a job yet.

The advice to redo your resumé was not unexpected and you didn’t take it personally as you already knew your paperwork needed an update. However, you were taken off guard and a tad hurt when your mentor suggested you change your appearance. You spend a lot of money on your hair and feel that it expresses who you are whether it is green or in dreadlocks or not there on purpose. One’s hair does usually express a lot about the person wearing it which can be a problem when you are looking for a job. For instance, you have an interview with a middle-aged woman who has a son with green hair who is also looking for a job. She has begged her son to change his hair color thinking that it would better his chances for employment. Now she has a tale to tell him about how she wouldn’t think of hiring a green-haired person like the one she interviewed today. That would be you.

Perhaps this tale is silly, but it has a kernel of truth. People who interview others for jobs have their own set of biases and whether those biases are illogical or inappropriate is beside the point. The interviewer’s biases exist and they may interfere with you getting a job. When you are looking for a job, try to diminish any biases that the interviewer might hold against you, like your hair, the way you dress, even the way you sit. This doesn’t mean that you have to give up your personality or values, you just have to lessen their effects while you are job hunting.

So, turn your brain on and review that conversation you had about what you need to do to improve your chances of getting a job, then do what you were told.