Dreading the Family Feast? The Dos and Don’ts for Surviving Holiday Parties

By putting a new spin on an old prospecting dialogue, agents can leverage real estate expertise to hack awkward holiday gatherings.


The holiday season is a wonderful time — gathering with family, reconnecting with friends, dinners, parties, and celebrations. There is plenty to look forward to, but for all its joys, almost nine in 10 Americans feel that the weeks from Thanksgiving to New Year’s are the most stressful time of the year. Common reasons include financial strain, finding gifts, decorating, and jam-packed schedules. But for many Americans, it’s seemingly the family aspect that starts raising blood pressure — with 35 percent of Americans citing family events as the most stressful part of the holidays. On average, we can only handle a few hours together before getting burned out by each other. 

Anxiety at family gatherings is something most can relate to at some level, but the average real estate agent should have some tricks up their sleeve to help make even the most dreaded interactions seamless and genuine. Agents can find an advantage during holiday gatherings by leveraging prospecting scripts and dialogues to form real connections with relatives, just as they would with strangers. One particularly useful tool is the FORD dialogue. 

FORD Script - Free Download

The Prospecting Dialogue that Works for Clients and Family Alike 

If the thought of spending extended time with extended family fills you with stress and anxiety, we have one suggestion to help things go a little smoother: use the FORD (Family, Occupation, Recreation, Dreams) dialogue. Often people think of scripts and dialogues only as professional tools. And to be sure, FORD is a fantastic way to meaningfully engage with professional contacts. But it’s also a great way to build relationships with those people who should be closest to you but who you just don’t know how to relate to.

With the FORD dialogue, you can do more than survive your holiday gatherings. Here are some tips for using FORD to develop meaningful connections with family.  


F: Family

Do: Ask about family! True, it might feel weird to ask about family while you’re at a family gathering, but many of the people there will likely have family members who aren't present. Ask about a married sibling's in-laws or a cousin you haven’t seen for a while. 

Do: Show that you care about staying current with family. Intentionally think about important recent events — like medical procedures, celebrations, or any recent moves to a new home.

Don’t: Assume you know all there is to know about your family. The topic of family is ever-important and changes constantly — there is no shortage of relatable and genuine conversation to have here.  

Free Download

O: Occupation

Don’t: Ask open-ended questions about work (“So, how’s work?”). Questions that don’t truly engage the person often only lead to unproductive small talk, which is awkward for everyone!  

Do: Talk about projects you are familiar with, your own professional passions, or the particulars of a new position. Talking to others about work they’re passionate about is also a great segue into your real estate career, which is never a bad thing for your referral base.  


R: Recreation

Do: Check in on end-of-year family trips or other fun events. You could do some light research beforehand, or what others may call “stalking,” on social media accounts to stay current with what family members are doing for fun these days. 

Do: Ask for advice in planning your own vacations or recreational activities. People love sharing their positive experiences, and when you give others the chance to share what brings them joy, conversations like this can be really meaningful in furthering connections.

Don’t: Brag about your own trips, accomplishments, and definitely don’t brag about money, even if others are. No one likes a brag party — it’s disingenuine and will only keep others at a distance. 


D: Dreams

Do: Listen intently when you are talking about something important to another person, even if it doesn’t seem like a big deal to you or you don’t understand it. If you are trying to really connect with family members (or anyone), engaging sincerely with their passions and desires is a powerful place to start.

Do: Open up and share your own aspirations and goals, even if they seem silly or you don’t like feeling vulnerable. Connection requires a balanced give and take, and sometimes that means expressing to others what’s important to you in your life. 

Don’t: Forget these interactions! The FORD dialogue is meant to help you interact with others on a deeper level — it’s not a formula for mindless interaction. You’ll likely learn information you want to remember. Write it down if you have to! If you have the same conversations with the same people next Thanksgiving, what was the point of getting together this year?


Using the right script in the right situation can unlock a more meaningful interaction for everyone involved, whether it’s business or not. Click here to learn more about scripts that can heighten your real estate game and help you improve your communication skills in your professional and personal spheres.