Authored by: Jen Barnett

As the holiday season approaches, many of us eagerly anticipate the joy and warmth that being with family and friends can bring. However, for some, navigating family dynamics can be as tricky as baking the perfect pie! Consider the scenario of a close-knit family where a high-powered, assertive daughter with a Driver (D) profile finds herself at odds with her Conscientious (C) profile mother, who is determined to achieve holiday perfection.

Meet Jessica, a go-getter with a strong D profile, who thrives on efficiency and results. Her approach to the holidays is straightforward – plan the menu, get to work, and execute flawlessly. But Jessica’s vision clashes with her mother, Linda, a meticulous C profile, who believes in precision, order, and impeccable execution during the holidays.

As Jessica pushes for efficiency, she can’t understand why Linda is stressing over every detail. From the perfectly folded napkins to the precise arrangement of table settings, Linda’s commitment to achieving holiday perfection is perplexing to Jessica. In Jessica’s mind, the food will taste the same no matter how the napkins are folded, but for Linda, this is a piece of the perfect day, and without properly folded napkins, the day will be ruined!

This mother-daughter duo represents a classic clash of the D and C profiles. Jessica, with her assertive and results-oriented nature, is eager to enjoy the holiday without dwelling on minute details. Linda, on the other hand, sees these same details as crucial elements of the celebration. Both Linda and Jessica bring different strengths to the table, but unfortunately, all they can see are their differences and they just can’t work well together!

Although it has industrial origins, the DISC model has proven to be a valuable tool beyond the workplace. Many individuals have found the framework helpful when applied to personal relationships, particularly in family dynamics and romantic partnerships. It’s not uncommon for DISC assessments to be used as a guide for communication strategies, conflict resolution, and fostering understanding between family members. The principles of DISC can extend far beyond the boardroom, offering practical solutions for building stronger, more harmonious connections within our closest relationships.

As you prepare to gather with your loved ones, it’s important to recognize differences in communication styles and behavior. One effective tool to do this is DISC, which categorizes individuals into four main personality profiles: Driver (D), Influencer (I), Stabilizer (S), and Conscientious (C). Let’s explore how to deal with each DISC profile during this holiday season, helping to create a more enjoyable holiday celebration… and maybe we can even find a way to help Jessica and Linda work better together!

Drivers (D) – The Take Charge Types:

The Driver is basically the holiday commander-in-chief. They’ll be the one effortlessly deciding the menu (with military precision), setting a schedule tighter than a drum, and ensuring everything runs smoother than grandma’s mashed potatoes. In conversations, they’re like the express lane of opinions – short, to the point, and probably not interested in a scenic detour through long-winded stories. So, if you spot them, they’re the relatives with the stopwatch, ensuring every holiday minute is as efficient as a well-oiled gravy boat.

Family members with a driver personality are characterized by their assertiveness, directness, and results-oriented mindset. When dealing with D-types at holiday dinners:

  • Approach: Be direct and to the point when communicating. Focus on results and solutions rather than dwelling on details.
  • Tip: Give them the opportunity to take charge or express their opinions. They appreciate efficiency, so keep conversations concise.
  • Tip: Try not to take comments from a D profile personally. You might feel like they are arguing with you or ‘bossing’ you around, but usually they are just trying to get things going more efficiently – and even if they get angry – it’s typically short-lived (in fact, you might think they are angry, but to them, it’s just Thursday).
  • D Profile Holiday Blind Spot: A D profile can tend to be loud or abrupt, which makes some of the other profiles uncomfortable engaging. To the D, this is just how they communicate. To others, it feels abrasive and possibly rude!
Influence (I) – The Social Butterflies:

A person with an influencer profile will bring energy and enthusiasm to the holiday table and the Influence profile individual as the main act, complete with a dazzling light show. They might be the ones initiating group activities like they’re directing a Broadway play, telling stories more entertaining than a sitcom marathon, and ensuring everyone is included in the festive fun – all while subtly whispering, “Look at me, I’m the star!” They thrive on positive interactions and will put on a show that even the holiday lights cant outshine!

People with an influential personality are outgoing, enthusiastic, and love social interactions. To engage with I-types:

  • Approach: Be warm, friendly, and open. Acknowledge and appreciate their enthusiasm for socializing.
  • Tip: Encourage them to share their thoughts and stories. They thrive on positive feedback and attention, so make them feel heard and valued. Let them feel like they are the hero!
  • Tip: A quick way to the heart of an I profile is through a genuine compliment or some words of appreciation for them as a person. Start the day off right by meeting them at the door and finding something wonderful to say, it will set the stage for great interactions!
  • I Profile Holiday Blind Spot: The I profile, in their bid to be the center of attention can often overshadow other family members. They can often forget to ‘give space’ in conversations, and allow others time to shine. 
Stabilizers (S) – The Peacekeepers:

When it comes to family festivities, the Stabilizers are the unsung heroes – the backstage crew of holiday harmony. While others might be busy coordinating the dazzling lights and extravagant decorations, Stabilizers are quietly in the background, making sure the show goes off without a hitch. They’re the ones offering a listening ear to family members like they’re the on-call therapists of the holiday season, and if there’s a calm and relaxed atmosphere, you can bet that a Stabilizer is behind it. But beware, suggesting a change to their traditional holiday routine is like suggesting Santa should ditch the red suit – it’s just not happening! They’re the keepers of the holiday peace, and don’t you forget it!

Those with a steady personality are known for their patience, empathy, and desire for harmony. When dealing with S-types family members:

  • Approach: Be calm, supportive, and considerate. Avoid confrontation and provide reassurance when needed.
  • Tip: Create a comfortable and relaxed environment. Give them time to adjust to changes, and appreciate their commitment to maintaining peace within the family.
  • Tip: Try not to push an S profile for an immediate decision or to take sides in any sort of family dissent. They will likely want to make everyone happy, and it will make them very uncomfortable to be placed in the middle!
  • S Profile Holiday Blind Spot: An S profile can easily take things very personally – if someone wants to change a holiday tradition, it can seem like a disaster to an S profile.
Conscientious (C) – The Analysts:

Conscientious individuals will bring an organized and detail-oriented approach to every occasion. When they approach an event, it’s like a military operation – every detail is planned with precision, and they have contingency plans for the contingency plans. When engaging in conversations, they’re the deep thinkers of the family, ready to discuss topics with more layers than a holiday dessert table. But beware, if you ask for their opinion on something unfamiliar, prepare for a barrage of questions. It’s not an interrogation; it’s just their way of making sure every decision is as foolproof as Grandma’s secret stuffing recipe. Get ready for a detailed discussion that might leave you wondering if you accidentally wandered into a TED Talk!

Individuals with a conscientious personality are detail-oriented, organized, and value accuracy. When interacting with C-types:

  • Approach: Be prepared, organized, and focus on facts and details. Provide clear, well-thought-out information.
  • Tip: Respect their need for structure and order. Engage in thoughtful discussions and appreciate their attention to detail.
  • Tip: Understand that if holidays are important to them (part of their ‘sacred circle’) then any deviation from their perfect plan will feel like the end of the world to them. Tread carefully and choose your battles.
  • C-Profile Holiday Blind Spot: They often do not understand that what is important to them is not important to others, and they expect perfection from themselves as well as those around them. They can come across as condescending without realizing it.

What does all this mean for Linda and Jessica? Well, these two tactics helped them mesh their personalities for  a fabulous holiday that was enjoyable (and less stressful) for everyone, maybe they can help you as well:

  • Set Realistic  Expectations: Establish realistic expectations for the holiday celebration. Linda might need to accept that not everything will go perfectly according to plan, while Jessica can understand the importance of certain details to Linda. Finding a balance between efficiency and perfection is key.
  • Compromise on Details: Finding a middle ground is crucial. Jessica might need to compromise on some details, recognizing that Linda’s attention to perfection contributes to the overall success of the holiday. Linda, in turn, can appreciate Jessica’s efficiency and consider letting go of less critical details to reduce stress.

The holidays are occasions to celebrate diversity, not only in the food we share but also in the personalities that make up our families. By understanding and adapting to different DISC profiles, we can enhance communication, build stronger relationships, and create a more harmonious atmosphere during the holiday season. So, as you gather around the table this holiday season, remember to appreciate the unique qualities each family member brings, making it a truly memorable and joyous occasion for everyone.






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