I love it, but I have some friends who are really not looking forward to the ‘gathering of the clans’. I mean – it can be awkward can’t it, when you are forced to be with people (extended family or friends of friends) who would not maybe be your first choice of people to spend protracted lengths of time with.

Or maybe you do love everyone who is coming around to yours this Christmas but there is just something about wanting everything to be perfect which can turn the most easy-going person into a critic, or an explosion waiting to happen.

One of my friends’ mother in laws came for the holidays last year. It didn’t go well. The point at which her mother in law rang her last week and asked if she was going to get rid of all the dresses she never wore, so the Mother In Law could hang up all the clothes she was bring, was the point she wished she had never invited them.

The thing is – we are all different aren’t we and some personality types just don’t get on that well with some others. Throw the pressures of Christmas into the mix and it can be a “nightmare on (elm) your street”.

But here’s the thing… If you can recognise the other ‘types’ and understand thatthey are just behaving to their type, and not on purpose to annoy you – then that helps you follow strategies for coping. And the thing to remember is that the world NEEDS all of these types – if we didn’t have the right mix of the different types, things would, literally, fall apart. So even though you might find them very annoying in a Christmas Gathering situation, they do have their benefits.

So, what are the Types?

Well first there is the Initiator. This kind of person is the one who gets things going. Without Initiators in the world, half the things, businesses and ideas simply would not exist. In order to get things going that have never been done, created or thought of before these people need a special skill. They need to be able to just tell other people what is going to happen. They need to be so convincing in this role that others don’t generally question it. So when JFK said – we are going to the moon by the end of this decade, Nasa didn’t say – ‘really, well, I am not sure we can do that’. They just got onto it and found a way.

So if you have an initiator (or maybe you are it) in your family – don’t get annoyed with them ‘taking over’ it is just that they have a brilliant idea and want to get it going.

Secondly we have Architects. Now Architects can take a concept and turn it into a proper plan. JFK couldn’t have planned the moon landing, he was just the person who dreamed it up and believed in it so much that it became fact. The architect is the person who ca see through the creativity (mess) of the Initiators mind (or anyone else’s) and knows exactly what needs to be done next to make that happen.

So, if you have an architect, they will no doubt try to take over. But only after they have been asked. They need an invite. So if you can see your Mum desperately wants to chip in on how to cook the turkey and make sure the veggies are all hot at the same time – ask her to help. Because she probably knows the answer and she will feel loved and appreciated when she is asked for help.

Thirdly we have specialists. Now specialists are great at getting the right people together to sort out a project or task and they operate a lot on gut instinct. So cousin Sally who is trying to get everyone into teams to play charades – might just be a specialist. They are quite prone to changing their minds though – so it might be charades one minute and a Christmas film the next. But we need specialists in the world. Especially in this day and age. Things change so rapidly, that the world need leaders who are flexible enough to change their minds in light of new information.

Of course, it can be annoying when it comes to whether they want turkey or beef gravy – but thank the Lord for the specialists.

Now there are the Builders – who also operate a lot on Gut Feeling and they are the real ‘Do-ers’ of the pack. Watch them with the Lego on Christmas Day! It’s a good job we have builders or very little would get done (actually specialists are also quite good at getting things done), they are just very happy to be told what to do and they will do it. But they won’t initiate anything. So don’t expect your ‘builder’ brother to volunteer to do the washing up. But if you ask him, you might be surprised at how efficiently he does it!

And then there are the neighbours – you know the people who are always looking out of their et curtains to see what is happening and seeing how things could be better. They will look at the builders washing up and comment that if they had rinsed first the water wouldn’t be as dirty! Again we need neighbours in the world (no not the ones next door – though they can be handy!). without neighbours we would still have mobile phones the size of bricks and cars without seat belts. They observe and improve things for others, but they can be annoying when ‘nit picking’ the finer details of the Christmas lunch.

Of course there is a lot more to the different personality types and this is just a bit of fun, however, if you struggle to cope with your Christmas Gathering of the Clans, even with the above knowledge then here are 5 tips to help you avoid being triggered over Christmas.

1. Instead of being upset or defensive when you perceive some criticism, just say “That’s interesting” and move to the kitchen to pour more wine, or get another mince pie.

2. Instead of arguing back just listen. There is a reason people say the things they say – and often what they say is masking the real issue. A friends mother has a habit of having one too many glasses of wine and then telling whoever is listening that the sky is deep green with purple clouds (i.e. something stupid). She is doing this to pick a fight. NOT because she actually wants a fight. It is because she is not coping with bereavement and wants someone to listen to her so she can let some of the emotion out.

3. Dance with the ideas of other rather than playing tug of war. What I mean by that is, imagine for a second that they are (not a complete idiot) right. Imagine that their idea is not totally stupid but has some merit. What’s the worst that could happen? Well as long as their idea doesn’t include killing the Mother in Law – they will go away thinking you are a wonderful open minded person, and peace will reign.

4. If it gets too bad and you really can’t do one of the above 3 strategies, then get out of the way. I mean, you wouldn’t stay in a room with cyanide gas in it would you? Would you really? Cos that stuff kills! So – if you knew there was poison in the air, you would get out right? Well, negativity is poison to your mind – so get out. Now – you don’t have to go far. You can just go for a walk (take the dog out). If you don’t have a dog, then ‘remember’ you said you would pop round to the neighbour with a card, or to ‘deliver’ a friends Christmas

present. And if you can’t leave the house, at least leave the room. Go lie down for a bit with a ‘headache’ or at least go visit the smallest room, with your mobile open on Candy crush or something else that will distract you from the emotions building up.

5. Instead of number 4, do something they weren’t expecting. Hug someone, kiss them on the cheek and say, ‘I love you’. If you say it like you mean it (because you do) then it will melt the coldest heart and soften the jaggedest edges. (yeah I know its not a word, but it is now!!). After all, Christmas is all about giving, and that doesn’t just mean gifts or food. It means love. It is the whole meaning of Christmas anyway – the gift of love. God’s love for the world. If you believe in that stuff. And if you don’t – well it is still a cool message isn’t it?

Merry Christmas!

Share This

Share this post with your peers.