As we pass the one-year mark since the beginning of the pandemic, there are so many shifts and changes that have happened in all our lives. Perhaps the biggest change in the area of our daily work is the shift to remote or flexible work (no, they are not the same thing). Working from home is certainly not new, but in the last year, even the most stalwart adherents to required in-office work have been forced to find ways to adapt. This has led many to proclaim that remote work is (mostly) here to stay, even after the pandemic has receded and we return to some form of what life was like before. While most business leaders are focused on the hard costs and benefits of remote work or flexible work, there is a cultural tension at work beneath the surface of every organization that threatens the long-term success of our new paradigms of decentralized work. The tension is whether we can choose to trust our employees and coworkers to deliver on their commitments or whether we choose to be suspicious.

We’ve all been there. Usually, sometime after turkey and before the game starts, when the uncomfortable silence starts to descend upon a living room full of people who want to believe they know each other better than they really do, we ask the question, “How’s work going?” Because hey, we’re family, and we’re desperate to pretend we have a handle on or even care about what our second cousins do for a living. Also, we don’t really know what else to talk about. The most common response is “good,” followed by an excruciating 20-second pause before some innocuous detail is thrown in to either shut the conversation down or open the door for more meaningful interaction.

I am advocating for the latter and here to show you the way. Here are some quick pointers that can help you make conversations about work with your family just a little bit less awkward.