Most holidays aren’t complete without a little family time. In fact, the November and December holidays are the busiest long-distance travel times of the year, with people taking long trips (over 50 miles to and from a destination) 54% more than the rest of the year—and 91% of these trips aren’t by plane or car but in their own personal vehicle*. In addition, visiting family accounts for over half of the trips taken during these months (compared to about a quarter of travel during the rest of the year). And a little more than a third of people will be cutting costs on their holiday travel by staying with family or friends for at least part of their trip.
While we all enjoy visiting with family, it can be difficult to stay in the moment when personalities start to clash and differences in preferences become apparent (such as one person with a preference for Judging getting upset when the family member with the Perceiving preference doesn’t want to stick to the schedule, or the family member who wants to keep socializing when a significant other is ready to have a quiet evening at home). One strategy for getting the most out of spending time with family is to practice flexing. When it comes to personality preferences, flexing is the act of consciously trying to accommodate and practice using the opposite preference from the one you favor. Take a look at the four examples of flexing below, and choose one based on your Myers-Briggs preferences to try this holiday season to be more present with your friends and family:
- If you’re energized by the outer world and have a preference for Extraversion, try to flex your preferences by proactively listening to someone as they’re talking—without interrupting them. Provide pauses in the conversation to allow others to join in when they’re ready, giving those with a preference for Introversion a chance to think on the subject before they speak. Also, remember to respect family members’ need for privacy if they aren’t sharing immediately.
- If you’re energized by reflecting on your inner world and have a preference for Introversion, try flexing your preferences by acknowledging your listening with physical cues: nodding, smiling, maintaining eye contact, etc. Also anticipate that you probably have family members who like to “think out loud,” and understand that their thoughts may not yet be 100% complete. Lastly, focus on discussing topics you’re comfortable with and know well. Often speaking about a well-known subject makes conversation easier for those who prefer Introversion.
- If you tend to make decisions using logic and analysis and have a preference for Thinking, flex toward others with a preference for Feeling by focusing on the people involved: find out what’s valued and important to the person you’re talking to. Also remember that it’s important to know when to provide feedback gently, and if you’re going to critique, critique the behavior and not the person. Lastly, actively try to acknowledge other people’s feelings and values instead of analyzing them.
- If you tend to make decisions based on your values and have a preference for Feeling, flex toward your more analysis-driven loved ones by being honest and frank with your comments, as well as by being positive. In addition, try not to feel threatened when someone challenges you or seems to want to debate you. Often individuals who prefer Thinking enjoy the thrill of the controversial conversation and aren’t taking the conversation personally. Lastly, show the cause and effect with pros and cons in your conversation.
While knowing the MBTI type of everyone in your family might make it easier to understand the differences between family members, the most important person’s type to know is your own. With knowledge of your own type, your self-awareness allows you to see what behaviors might jive and which might clash with other members of your family.
Want to give a friend or family member the gift of self-awareness for themselves? You can now send the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator as a gift to anyone of your choosing! Visit www.mbtionline.com/holiday to share what you’d like most this holiday season, access the MBTI Gifting Guide with gift tips for each of the 16 types, and send the MBTI assessment as a gift to a special friend or family member. Best part? This gift will NEVER shrink in the dryer.