Press Room

Keep Calm Through Communication During the Holiday Season

November 22, 2016
Experts Available

Washington, DC  -- As people begin traveling this week to see family and friends for the holiday season, tensions are rising and anxiety is setting in, and it’s not just because of Black Friday shopping, airport chaos, or cooking the perfect dinner for 12 guests with varying dietary needs. The holidays are often the only time of year that families come together in one place: a mix of parents, children, grandchildren, in-laws, and significant others that are growing increasingly diverse in terms of religion, ethnicity, and lifestyle. For many people, annual holiday small talk is stressful enough, but heightened emotions in the wake of the recent presidential election adds yet another layer of pressure to face during a season traditionally associated with family, love, peace, and unity.

Communication scholars from the National Communication Association who study interpersonal and family communication can provide insight into the following:

  • What are some helpful tips for effective communication with family and friends during the holiday season?
  • What unique communication challenges will families face in the aftermath of a divisive presidential election?
  • How can families welcoming individuals of different faiths, ethnicities, race, or lifestyles use communication in a respectful and positive way?
  • How can family and friends communicate effectively and calmly with someone who has had too much to drink?


Anita Vangelisti, Ph.D. Department of Communication Studies, University of Texas at Austin
Dr. Vanglisti is interested in interpersonal communication among family members and between romantic partners. Her current work focuses how communication affects, and is affected by, emotions and interpretive processes such as attribution. She is the author of several books, including Explaining Family Interactions, Feeling Hurt in Close Relationships, and the co-author of Interpersonal Communication and Human Relationships.

Paul Schrodt, Ph.D. College of Communication, Texas Christian University
Dr. Schrodt specializes in family communication, interpersonal communication, and instructional communication. His primary research interests include studying the communicative cognitions and behaviors that facilitate family relationships, with a particular interest in the message strategies and behaviors that facilitate step-family functioning.

Lynn Turner, Ph.D. Department of Communication Studies, Marquette University
Dr. Turner focuses on interpersonal, family, and gendered communication, and the intersections between work and family. She is co-editor of The Family Communication Sourcebook and The SAGE Handbook of Family Communication. She’s also the co-author of the text Perspectives on Family Communication, which is now going into its 5th edition. At Marquette University she directs the interdisciplinary minor in family studies. In her research, she is particularly interested in the expanding definition of family. Her recent work focuses on how partners communicate when one person suffers chronic pain, and also communication about having a hoarder in the family.

CONTACT: To schedule an interview with an expert, please contact Jenna Sauber at or 202-534-1104. 

About the National Communication Association

The National Communication Association (NCA) advances Communication as the discipline that studies all forms, modes, media, and consequences of communication through humanistic, social scientific, and aesthetic inquiry. NCA serves the scholars, teachers, and practitioners who are its members by enabling and supporting their professional interests in research and teaching. Dedicated to fostering and promoting free and ethical communication, NCA promotes the widespread appreciation of the importance of communication in public and private life, the application of competent communication to improve the quality of human life and relationships, and the use of knowledge about communication to solve human problems. NCA supports inclusiveness and diversity among our faculties, within our membership, in the workplace, and in the classroom; NCA supports and promotes policies that fairly encourage this diversity and inclusion.

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