Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What Are Your Thanksgiving Expectations?

Thanksgiving is upon us and it is the family holiday of all family holidays. Expectations can be high for a glorious 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. Many times though, the actual holiday turns out to be far from the ideal. What can you do to prevent a disastrous family gathering? Believe it or not, understanding the four basic personality styles can be a life-saver. Many different names have been used to identify the distinctive profiles but I will refer to them as animals in this post, because it really describes the characteristics of each! Once you understand their style and communicate with them according to their basic needs, you can create an accepting, positive environment where everyone can thrive.

My own family provides a great example of how to manage the family dynamics. Thanksgiving this year will be at my daughter, Laura’s new home. A lion of a personality style, she loves a situation where she can orchestra the event and this is perfect for her. Two weeks before the date she had already sent all of us text messages about what our dish would be and gotten confirmation about our 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 beaver 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 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 otter personality? They are people oriented, inspiring to others and the life of the party. My son-in-law, Ryan,  fits this personality profile and keeps everyone entertained with his 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 golden retriever 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. They are service oriented, task oriented and yet very caring and 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 in there. 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!

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