If you’re dreading the thought of spending time trapped in close confines with various members of your family this Christmas (be they close, extended or estranged!), I may just have the secret to surviving the festive season without WW3 breaking out or you turning to the bottle (or 3)!
Recognising the Personality Types of your Family Members
Whether it’s Aunt Doris who insists on playing Charades for hours on end or your drunken Uncle casting disparaging remarks on everything from your dress, to your job and boyfriends, before falling asleep and snoring over the movie you’ve been dying to watch – in peace! Or perhaps it’s your brother-in-law making lewd comments about pulling the turkey wishbone with you…
Christmas gatherings can leave us feeling less festive and more frazzled and tied up in knots than the last Twiglet in the dish! Especially if you’re the one trying to keep the peace and create ‘the perfect day’ for everyone yet getting no support or thanks in return!
In fact, dealing with an eclectic mix of personalities, all thrown together for an event with just one thing in common, is very similar to the kind of situations I often find my Team Coaching clients in when I first start working with them. And yet there are a number of ways that we can help to not just smooth over tensions and prevent arguments or fall-outs, but to also improve relationships and lead to a more harmonious and effective unit.
“Life is all about interacting!”
As part of any coaching programme I embark on with a client, whether one to one or a team, I always recommend that they complete a Personality and Behaviours profile, such as DISC, as I believe it provides so many valuable insights into what makes us tick (and also what, or who, gets on our wick!). It highlights an individual’s dominant traits, such as whether they’re more outgoing or introverted and whether they’re more people- or task-oriented. It also explores their strengths and challenges due to these traits, as well as what motivates them, their preferred style of communication and the type of environment they’re likely to feel comfortable in…and those that will make them want to run or hide! I find DISC so helpful for increasing our awareness therefore of why we may thrive in certain relationships, for instance feeling that instant connection with someone you’ve just met, but yet can struggle daily with a colleague who you just never seem to see eye to eye with.
And given that life is all about interacting with others, from family members, friends, colleagues and clients, to shop assistants, restaurant staff and the Postie, surely anything we can do to improve the effectiveness of these relationships, the better for everyone involved, right?
We’re all different. Some people like to chat things through with other people to get a feel for different options and perspectives, while others prefer to think things over quietly, to process information and make a decision in their own time. Some love a strategic game like chess, where they get to plan and manage their entire game play to the nth degree, while others much prefer something like group Pictionary, where they can be as daft as a brush and act ‘in the moment’.
There’s no right or wrong way of being, no one personality type is better than another and we all have some of each of the 4 key traits within us, just to varying degrees. However, when we realise this and begin to appreciate eachother’s differences, rather than seeing them as negatives or allowing others’ behaviours to irk and annoy us, we give everyone the opportunity to benefit from sharing those differences and seeing them as positives. Because you can almost guarantee that for every ‘weakness’ or challenge that one person may have, someone else will have a strength or quality in that area to compensate.
You can read more about how DISC Personality and Behaviour profiling works in here.
So, how can you use this information to your advantage during the festive season?
Read through the following tips that apply to each personality style (Dominant, Influencer, Steadiness, Compliance) to see how by recognising these traits in yourself and those that you spend time with, you can appeal to their strengths and natural motivations and hopefully see the Big Day through with more fun and less stress!
Personality Type D:
People with a type D personality like to take charge of things but hate the idea of being taken advantage of. They need to feel appreciated, to know that their efforts are being acknowledged. When this is neglected, it can cause tension. If you’re around someone with a type D personality, allow them to take the lead on certain tasks or activities and be sure to thank them for all the things they do. Did they rearrange their work schedule to make it to a family party? Did they organise getting the perfect Christmas tree and decorations? Give them the chance to do something they excel at, let them do it on their own terms, and tell them how much you appreciate the final result. That’s the key to a happy D!
Personality Type I:
People with an I personality type thrive in a happy, social and collaborative environment. If you have an I around you during the holidays, try to keep things light and fun. They’re great conversationalists and always have a good story to tell. Let them! They also make a great ‘plus 1’ if you’re invited to a party where you won’t know many people or are rather timid yourself – they’ll soon get the conversation started for you! However, don’t let them get isolated or bogged down by over-committing to too many obligations – they aren’t very good at saying No. Help them to simplify things so that they have time for the social part of the holidays.
Personality Type S:
People with an S personality are great at taking care of others, but they often neglect or forget to think about their own needs. At the holidays, S personalities tend to go into overdrive, trying to do everything they can think of to please everyone around them. They won’t ask for help and can drive themselves into a stress-fuelled state of exhaustion. Help them by sharing the load but also keeping them in the loop; they love to feel needed! They may struggle in big groups and will likely hate being put in the spotlight, so having a chat one on one in a separate room with an S, away from the main hubbub, will help reduce any crowd-induced anxiety!
Personality Type C:
People with a C personality are planners and focus on the tasks at hand. It’s hard for them to adjust when things don’t go according to plan and can become very stressed out by trying to adhere to long ‘to do’ lists and predetermined expectations. They want things to be perfect. When you’re around a C at Christmas, try to help them relax and let go of expectations. When possible, remind them that it’s okay to enjoy the moment and join in some fun activities. Or if you’re dealing with a hardcore high C, then help them cross the things off their list that need to get done, so they can get to a place where they can let go and enjoy themselves. Whatever you do, don’t criticize their plans. That will only make their stress levels skyrocket.
Have you recognised any of these traits in the people you’ll be spending time with this holiday? How might your perceptions have changed on the behaviours you normally witness around you, after reading the pros and cons to each personality type? What steps can you take to minimise the likelihood of stress and increase the chances of enjoying your time together?
I’d love to hear your comments, leave them below!
And in the meantime, let me take this opportunity to wish you a very merry Christmas and may it be filled with peace, calm and appreciation!
P.S. and if you need further help with improving your relationships in 2019, just get in touch for a FREE consultation – my gift to you this Christmas!