The Abilene Paradox shows how a group can agree on something that nobody really wants because they're afraid to speak up. It's like when a family plans something for the holidays that no one enjoys. "Have you heard of it?"

This can create an annual dose of holiday stress, however I have listed a few suggestions for you to consider:

  1. What do YOU want: Much like in the Abilene Paradox, individuals often suppress their preferences to align with a perceived collective expectation during the holidays. Take a moment to identify what truly brings YOU joy during this season. Is it spending quality time with loved ones, engaging in particular traditions, or taking time for self-care? "What's important to you?"
  2. Communicate Openly: The essence of managing the Abilene Paradox is open communication. Similarly, honest dialogue with family and friends about holiday expectations can prevent unnecessary stress. Express your desires and encourage others to do the same, fostering an environment of understanding and compromise. "Can you do that?"
  3. Embrace Flexibility: Stress often arises from rigid expectations. Just as the paradox highlights the dangers of rigid conformity, be open to adjusting plans. Allow space for spontaneity and adaptation, understanding that perfection isn’t necessary for a meaningful holiday experience. "Is that you?"
  4. Set Boundaries: In the Abilene Paradox, people agree to actions they don’t want due to a lack of boundaries. Similarly, establishing boundaries during the holidays is crucial for managing stress. Learn to say no when needed, prioritize self-care, and respect others’ boundaries as well. "Can you say no?"
  5. Reflect and Learn: After the holidays, reflect on your experiences. Did you stay true to your desires? What worked well, and what could be improved? Embrace the lessons learned to navigate future holiday seasons with greater ease. "How did you do?"

By applying the principles of the Abilene Paradox, you can navigate the holiday season with reduced stress and increased fulfillment. Remember, the holidays are about joy, connection, and celebration – not about conforming to unrealistic expectations. Embrace your authenticity, communicate openly, and prioritize what truly matters to make this season truly memorable and enjoyable. "

"Would you be willing the scrap old traditions to make new ones that are more appropriate and enjoyable for you and your family?"

The term "Abilene Paradox" originated from the work of Jerry B. Harvey, a professor of management science at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He completed his undergraduate degree in business administration and earned a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Texas in Austin. Learn more HERE

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Wishing you a stress-free holiday season,

Lisa Lounsbury. (aka - The Wellness Lady)

~ Permission to Reprint and Repost

About the Author

Lisa Lounsbury is the founder of New Day Wellness Inc. She has been a passionate wellness advocate for over 30 years and his combining her expertise in corporate wellness, mental health training and lifestyle coaching to offer a common sense approaching to living a healthy well-balanced lifestyle.


About the Author Lisa Lounsbury