Most of the important events have been canceled, but there are still many celebrations going on. Which leaves many to decide whether to go or not.


Not everyone wants to rush to restaurants and beaches that reopen during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, but they may be at odds with the views of friends and family.

Getting out of the house and socializing has become a divisive issue, especially as states are easing COVID-19 restrictions and more and more people are leaving their homes to connect with others.

Anthony Fauci, the nation’s foremost infectious disease expert, recently told a group of Harvard speakers, “We have to squat and get through this fall and winter.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn’t tell Americans to stay home, but the agency offers a dozen risk factors to consider before you leave.

As people understand what’s best for them, they are also forced to have some awkward conversations.

It is vital to remember that one day the pandemic will end and it is important to ensure that relationships remain intact, label expert Elaine Swann told USA TODAY.

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“People are so sensitive right now about COVID and their beliefs,” he said. “We’re trying to find these ways to tell people what they’re doing wrong and the choices they’re not making right and why they’re not doing it invited and this is not the kind of conversation we should engage in.”

There is a pain associated with not being able to interact with friends and family during the pandemic, said psychologist Dr. Vaile Wright. It’s okay to hear that loss, he said.

“The challenge is not to guess ourselves,” he said. “Once we have done whatever risk-benefit analysis is for us and our families on what’s safe and OK for us, then we just have to agree with that decision and kind of move on.”

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“First person statements” and “you statements”

It’s possible to say no effectively and still alienate relationships, said Wright, senior director of health innovation at the American Psychological Association. It’s impossible to control how someone reacts to being rejected, he said.

“You don’t want to attack, insult or blame,” he said. “You want to stay away from what we refer to as” statements. “Saying something like,” You’re not following the rules, so I can’t come to Thanksgiving, “will put the other person on the defensive and you won’t be as effective.”

She added, “Instead, you want to use what we call” first person statements “and express your feelings. It would be more like” I feel uncomfortable bringing my family around this year, so we’ll have to say no on Thanksgiving. . “”

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Swann advised saying no without a “COVID reason”. Adding the “COVID reason”, instead of just saying no, “the other person feels like they’re not making a good decision,” he said.

“The best way to turn down these kinds of invitations and keep our friendship alive is not to put the other person down during the decline of the invitation,” said Swann, founder of the Swann School of Protocol. “What I mean is don’t question your judgment.”

Conversations with family members

People tend to lack restraint when it comes to dealing with family members, Swann said. Saying no with respect is still important. However, alternatives can be provided to a family member. If it is not possible to go out to a restaurant, a visit to the garden could be.

“Refuse with an alternative,” Swann said.

It is possible for things to get tense. Anticipating what a negative reaction might look like can help, Wright said. Entering the conversation with a clear mind also helps. Don’t get into a conversation where you may have to reject a family member if you’ve already had a hard day.

The things most people are most concerned about are anger, disappointment, and guilt, Wright added. According to Wright, finding answers to each of these emotions (something like “I understand you’re angry, but I have to do what’s right for my family”) can ease the conversation.

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Also, have a plan to close the phone or call Zoom. After the conversation, it is important to have coping mechanisms. Take a walk, talk to a friend who supports you – do something that will help you personally alleviate the situation, Wright said.

“The reality is, they might get angry and there’s not much you can do about it,” Wright said. “The worst thing you can do would be to react in a similar way and / or change your mind because someone has made you feel guilty about going against what you have decided is right for you and your family.”

Weddings, birthdays, party dinners

When organizing an event such as a wedding or birthday, sometimes it will be necessary to tell loved ones that they are not invited. The same could be true for meetings and festive dinners.

Expressing enthusiasm for the opportunity for future events that everyone is invited to is a good way to help the excluded feel better, Swann said.

“You spin that conversation and really focus on that next time you can get together,” Swann said.

Virtual invitations can help too. Ask loved ones to join via Zoom and dress up for the occasion, even take a screenshot of the video conference to commemorate the event, Swann suggested.

“You tell them, ‘Hey, we’re keeping the marriage very small, but I still want you to be a part of it and here are all the different things I want you to do so that you can be a part of it,” Swann said.

“The drinks are on me” when friends invite you out

It is possible to continue being part of an event after refusing to be there in person.

First find out what the situation is when someone sends an invitation, Swann said. Will social distancing be practiced? Will they all wear a mask? Swann said that a “kind gesture to the guest” can go a long way to soften the blow of refusing to show up in person.

Maybe send a gift.

“You can send something using DoorDash or Postmates,” Swann said. “Maybe it’s a bottle of wine or cheese. Or the other thing you can do is just send them some money. That’s the one thing no one will turn down. You can say,” Hey, the drinks are on me. ” “

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It’s important to approach each situation with empathy, Wright said.

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