Thanksgiving will soon be upon us and it is the family holiday of all family holidays. Expectations can be high for an ideal family gathering where old and young catch up on the events of the past year and everyone relaxes in the loving community of the people you care about most in the world. Does this sound like your family?
Many times, the actual holiday turns out to be far from the ideal. Conflicts arise. Feelings are hurt. What can you do to prevent a disastrous family gathering? Understanding the four basic personality styles can be a life-saver. Once you understand their style and communicate with family members according to their basic needs, you can create an accepting, positive environment where everyone can thrive.
The Four Basic Personality Styles
According to the DISC personality program, there are four basic personality styles. We are all blends of these. Here are the characteristics of each.:
D: dominant, determined, decisive
I: interactive, inspiring, influential
S: stable, sweet, supportive
C: competent, cautious, conscientious
The Secret Sauce
Each personality style has a secret fuel that they need to thrive. If they don’t get their fuel, they each respond with different reactions.
Secret fuel: getting results
Reaction to not getting it: get mad
Secret fuel: having fun
Reaction to not getting it: quit
Secret fuel: peace and harmony
Reaction to not getting it: feelings get hurt
Secret fuel: quality answers, being right, good value
Reaction to not getting it: get critical
How Does this Work?
My own family provides a great example of how to manage the family dynamics. One year Thanksgiving was at my oldest daughter’s home. A high D personality style, she loves a situation where she can orchestra the event and this was perfect for her. Two weeks before the date she had already sent everyone text messages about what their dish would be and gotten confirmation about plans for making it. If you have someone like this in your family, give them choices, challenge and control, to ensure that things will run smoothly.
What if you have someone who is more of the C personality type? They are detail oriented, competent and conscientious. Their greatest need is quality answers and they do not function well when the details are not specific. My youngest daughter, Hayley, is more of this personality and from the time she received the list of items she was to bring, she began researching the best recipes and ingredients. When this personality asks what time is Thanksgiving dinner, they expect a specific answer, something like this, “You should arrive at the house at 1:00 tomorrow. We will put the bread that you bring in the oven about 1:50 and eat about 2:00.” Telling them to show up sometime in the afternoon and that we’ll eat when every else gets there, really won’t cut it with this personality.
What if you have someone who is the I personality? They are people oriented, inspiring to others and the life of the party. This is a family member who will keep everyone entertained with their wit and sociability. I hope you have someone like this your family to make the family gathering fun! Life and families would be dull and boring without them. However, they do tend to be impulsive and they are not very task oriented so expect them to show up late and forget the dish they were assigned to bring. What does this personality profile need? Recognition, is key so be sure to compliment them on their latest funny story or the way they liven up the get together. It truly wouldn’t be the same without them.
Last but certainly not least, you are bound to have several of the S personalities in your family. They are steady, stable and sweet. If you don’t, you may never get dinner on the table because these are the true worker bees of the world. S personalities are service oriented and very caring, compassionate people. They can sympathize with you having three kids in diapers, help grandma find the silverware so she can set the table and put the finishing touches on their own dish, all at the same time. What do they need for all their hard work? These personalities thrive on appreciation, so be sure to tell them how much you appreciate their efforts. Many counselors and teachers fit into this personality profile, along with yours truly…
Well, that covers all the four basic personality types and I’ll bet that you recognized a few family members of your own. I know I did. Different personalities make life interesting so be sure to focus on each family member’s strengths, provide them with the kind of feedback they need and enjoy your unique family! Have a blessed Thanksgiving!