Eileen Head Personality Matchmaker & Author

Overcoming Thanksgiving Family Challenges

There are lots of things to look forward to for Thanksgiving. It’s a holiday, time off or maybe not if you are hosting the family for turkey dinner. The leaves and trees are spectacular, the weather is supposed to be fairly nice. There is a smell of turkey cooking and a table laden with great food. Family gathered together can be a happy and fun time.

It can also be a time when there are some challenges within the dynamics of parents, siblings, children, in-laws etc. So what do you do with the person who always says something to upset you?

We have the expectation that everyone is going to play nice but their version of playing is different from yours. What if Dad always says that one thing that sets you off or Mom serves her portion of guilt or your sister/brother pokes you with a comment about your kids. You get the jist.

We spend a lot of our energy on trying to change the situation and most of the time they are not going to change no matter how often you tell them it is hurtful or defend yourself. That generally leads to more conflict. So what if you put a plan in place where you are going to react differently to the situation this time.

Personalities are identified by the behavior patterns. When you understand the personality pattern, you will understand the person; both their good qualities and challenging ones. If you can prepare a comeback that is not argumentative or defensive you can often shift everyone.

In our family we might only see one another a few times a year. One of the first comments used to be about our weight and whether we had gained or lost. Not sure why that was but it was a pattern we had. A great way to change the pattern is with humor. Instead of responding by being hurt or upset I could say something like “I know I’ve gained some weight. Supper looks so good that come Monday I better sign up for a marathon.”

Or you can have a contest with your family. “How long do you think it will be before my brother comments on my weight when we walk in? The closest to that time wins." Then when it is said you can look at one another laughing and say “Johnny you win. You were right.” When everyone else asks why you are all laughing you can tell them about the contest. Make it light and funny.

You can come up with your own ways but have a strategy for dealing with your sticky situations without getting upset. When you understand the different personality types you will be more prepared by how they might react.

Perfectionists may be rearranging the knives and forks to the proper position, Helpers will be washing dishes long after everyone has left the table, Achievers will be talking about the work and the deals they have made, Individualists are very sensitive and so there might be some drama , Observers may be engaged in stimulating conversations or debates, Skeptics may be talking about a worst case scenario that might happen, Enthusiasts will be making things fun and upbeat, Challengers are going to say it like it is, and Peacemakers will be attempting to derail any conflict and keep the peace.

Understanding there different personality perspectives can be highly entertaining once you understand their style. Most importantly, know your own personality so that you can react in the best possible way.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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