Navigating personality clashes during the festive season
What personality types do you have in your family and friends? In 2009 I wrote about how to cope with different personality types at work and explained the four dimensions on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Click here to take another look at that edition. You might want to read through them and think about the following questions to help you to understand the key people around you:
- Does Jack drive you mad with his incessant chatter because he has a preference for Extraversion and that is how he relates to the world?
- Is Myra really being unsociable when she doesn't join in with the banter or is it because she has a preference for Intraversion and is naturally quiet in groups?
- Does Uncle Bob bore you to tears with his detailed descriptions of each stage of his journey to you or his holidays because he has a preference for dealing with the details, while you are a big picture person (Sensing – Intuitive dimension on MBTI)?
- Are Joe's big ideas for saving the planet pie in the sky or is his ‘big picture' thinking coming to the fore (Sensing – Intuitive dimension on MBTI)?
- Does the fact that Nick likes playing devil's advocate mean he has a preference for Thinking?
- Is Said's need for harmony and his ability to sooth over any family tensions due to his Feelings preference?
- Is the fact that Joan leaves her festive shopping until Christmas Eve just her personality type rather than her being a hopelessly disorganised person (Perceiving versus Judging dimension on MBTI)?
- Why is every day out with your friend Sam organised like a military operation, could it be their preference for the Judging dimension?
What about yourself, what are your personality preferences and how does that impact on how you interact with your friends and family?
‘Holidays are an expensive trial of strength. The only satisfaction comes from survival.' Jonathan Miller
Are you good at asking for what you need? Different personality types have different needs. Do you know what you need and are you good at asking for it? Sometimes people act up with their families and friends because they are not asking for and getting their specific needs met. Sometimes the only way they know to get that is through quite manipulative behaviour. I had one woman on a workshop who suddenly realised that when she was tired and wanted her husband to make her a cup of tea, she would sigh very loudly and make a big thing of being tired. She realised that instead she could simply and directly ask him if he would mind making her a cuppa! She had not realised that she was manipulating the situation.
So think about your personality type, are there things that you need to make your festive season: enjoyable (playing games with the children), exciting (unexpected, unusual gifts), relaxing (an occasional lie in), etc.
How can you go about discussing this in a calm and rational way with your loved ones?
Remember they are not mind readers and if you don't ask they won't know.
Although I definitely have a preference for Extraversion on the MBTI I also really value my time alone. Having gone away with my family for festive holidays over the last 8 years they are used to the fact that I might want an afternoon or some time on my own. Nobody thinks I am unsociable or being rude. And I know I need the time alone in order to fully enjoy the time with others, so I know to ask for it.
‘If you feel like you're being taken for a ride, get out of the passenger's seat and take control.' Peter Karsten
Are you good at allowing others what they need? – How do you react when others clearly express what they want and need? Your reaction might depend on how assertive you are about your own needs. It tends to be that if we don't express what we want and need, then we end up resenting when others do.
Put yourself in their shoes, think about their personality type, what might be their needs. For example, Judging preferences tend to want to know when and where things are going to happen, even if you might be a more ‘let see what happens' kind of person.
Remember that they are not just being difficult, they are just different from you. Take a deep breath, even chuckle in your head about how different you are and think how you can meet both your own and other people's needs.
What are you going to do to take everyone's personality types in your stride?
‘True happiness is of a retired nature, and an enemy to pomp and noise; it arises, in the first place, from the enjoyment of one's self, and in the next from the friendship and conversation of a few select companions.' Joseph Addison
See the right hand column regarding using MBTI with your team.
For more information about Grovelands visit our website: www.grovelands.org.uk or call Melanie on 01865 377334 or email by clicking here.