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It’s more straightforward than you might think

Quick Notes

  • Personality tests like Myers-Briggs can reveal a lot about you.

  • Certain personality types are more prone to conflict than others.

  • Understanding personality types can help with navigating family gatherings over the holidays.

The holiday season is bearing down upon us with shocking speed, and we never seem to be ready for it. As we pass through Thanksgiving and head into Christmas time, a lot of us are probably worried about those lovely, dreaded, necessary family gatherings. They’re fun, of course, but also severely stressful, especially since a lot of heads can knock and a lot of arguments can happen over seemingly trivial things.

This holiday season, however, we can use science to prepare for the holidays, and figure out in advance which family members we might have the most trouble with. Preparedness is key to success and all that.

The test

The Myers-Briggs personality test has been around for a while, but a quick refresher never hurt anyone. It’s a fairly long test, but in the end, you receive one of sixteen possible personality types that reveals a lot about yourself. It gives you information about four different aspects of your personality: where you fall on the spectrum of Introversion and Extraversion (how we prefer to receive and direct energy), how you process information (Sensing or Intuition), how you make decisions (Thinking or Feeling), and how you approach the outside world (Judging or Perceiving).

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It’s a pretty thorough test, and while it’s not a replacement for a professional psychiatrist or therapist, it can reveal a lot about how you tick, which can help you better understand yourself. The test can also help identify the sources of conflict amongst groups.

Who’s more likely to butt heads?

While it may seem rather obvious, people who are operating at opposite ends of the personality spectrum might struggle a little to get along. There’s the usual struggle between introverts and extraverts, as introverted people might feel overwhelmed by their extraverted family’s energy, and the extraverted among us might feel jilted by the lack of energy the introverts seem to demonstrate.

A Sensing personality type might also cause some conflict, if you’re more of an Intuition kind of person, as they typically pay attention to all the little details, like who’s wearing what and if you’re using the Christmas decoration that they bought you last year.

Emotional planning

If you lean towards the Feeling end of the spectrum, you’ll probably experience a lot of emotions in a short period of time, which might make you more irritable, especially if others don’t seem to share the same feelings as you. People who lean towards Thinking are typically more logical in their decision-making, but that means they might accidentally hurt some feelings along the way (yes it makes sense that only ten people can comfortably fit in the room for the party, but the people who didn’t get invited are going to be offended).

The Myers-Briggs personality types won’t help solve all your conflict, but they can give you some helpful tools in dealing with it this holiday season.

And finally, the last parts of the personality type: the Judgers and Perceivers. If you lean towards Judging, that usually means you’re more organized. You’re probably ready to go on time, you have a plan and schedule and you’re going to stick to it, because you’ve already decided to do so. Those on the Perceiving end tend to be a little more open to changes in the plan, but also might leave things (like buying presents) to the last minute. This can cause some conflict if one person is ready to go and trying to drag everyone out so they won’t be late, but everyone else is still milling around and chatting.

Don’t worry, there’s a way to fix this

As scary as all these opportunities for conflict are, there are some ways to avoid huge arguments this holiday season. Firstly, figure out what your personality type is, and, if you can, what others’ types are. This will help you prepare for what’s coming.

Next, try to understand the viewpoint of people who are at the other end of the spectrum from you. If you’re an extravert, take your enthusiasm a little easier when dealing with your introverted cousin. If you’re more of a Judging type, take a breath and remember that not everyone is going to be ready to go with the plan (if it helps, build a little extra time into your plan; or make a few different versions depending on what people want to do).

The Myers-Briggs personality types won’t help solve all your conflict, but they can give you some helpful tools in dealing with it this holiday season. Go forth and enjoy the holidays, and know you’ll be a little better prepared to deal with all those family parties.

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