Navigating personality differences at homeWritten by Daniel Huerta
What's inside this article
“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” – Colossians 1:19-20
As the world adjusts to a new normal and growing list of unknowns, our families are bombarded with difficult headlines and news. Each person responds to these events differently according to their unique personalities. This can often be a recipe for frustration, conflict and endless misunderstandings in our relationships at home.
I’m sure that at some point you have taken a personality test and learned helpful information about yourself. While learning about yourself is important, we also believe it is vital to learn about those around you. We want you and your family to build stronger relationships through a better understanding of each member’s personality type.
Keep in mind that personality is very complex. Distilling personalities into four large categories is meant to begin a journey of understanding. The way we have divided the categories are: Leader, Thinker, Talker and Peacemaker. By understanding each other better, we can move past misunderstandings more quickly and get to listening to each other and growing closer together.
Leader: Competitive, take-charge, decisive, direct, assertive, problem-solver, risk-taker, adventurous, fixer, visionary, bold and goal-oriented
Manages Stress and Fear by: Exercising, doing, controlling and becoming extra task focused. These emotions can create impatience and bluntness, as well as a need to be noticed and affirmed by others. The leader may desire more things to do and boredom will create even more stress.
Difficulties: Impatience, workaholism, running over others emotionally, arrogance and inflexibility
Emotional Wants: Accomplishment, control, loyalty, attention and admiration
Possible Motivators: Control, challenges, competition, and mastery
Appreciate: Recognition, competence, credit, boldness, honesty, and hard work
Thinker: Organized, perfectionistic, analytical, artistic, careful, cautious, focused, scheduled, loyal, dependable, independent, selective, structured and organized
Manages Stress and Fear by: Making lists, thinking, cleaning, reading, disengaging and organizing. These emotions can increase impatience toward others and disorganization. They need to be listened to and to have space to regroup, process and organize. The thinker may desire less sensory input.
Difficulties: Jealousy, overly critical, fear, pessimism, passive-aggressiveness and inflexibility
Emotional Wants: Alone time, silence, empathy and understanding
Possible Motivators: Organization, structure, control and challenge
Appreciate: Respect, follow-through and thoughtful recognition
Talker: Naturally optimistic, affectionate, spontaneous, extroverted, curious, charming, adaptable, warm and inviting
Manages Stress and Fear by: Talking, playing and being distracted. These emotions can create even more distractibility, disorganization and task avoidance. The talker may desire more attention and sensory input.
Difficulties: Disorganization, listening, resource management, boredom and boundaries
Emotional Wants: Attention, acceptance, approval and affection
Possible Motivators: Curiosity, fun, recognition and cooperation
Appreciate: Fun, relationship, laughter, teamwork, attention, approval and acceptance
Peacemaker: Sensitive, flexible, warm, compassionate, friendly, easygoing, patient, loyal, kind, reliable, steady, mellow and even tempered
Manage Stress and Fear by: Disengaging, procrastinating, relaxing and helping others. These emotions can create sensitivity, overreactions and need for reassurance, quality time, peace and downtime. The peacemaker may desire more calming sensory input.
Difficulties: Adversity, decision-making, people pleasing, and timidity
Emotional Wants: Recognition, encouragement, peace and comfort
Possible Motivators: Cooperation, unity, relaxation and quality time
Appreciate: Respect, peace, quiet, patience, loyalty and respect
Learn about other personalities
Take some time to learn about the personalities of people around you. Then, share your results and get to know one another. Create goals for using each person’s strengths to build a fun, safe, trusting culture for everyone in your family. Make this time about solutions rather than pointing out each other’s weaknesses.
For example, in my own family, my daughter is a Talker. Recently, she was trying to do her homework with two Peacemakers and a Thinker mom in charge at the kitchen table. She was processing her thoughts out loud, which made it hard for others to concentrate as they did their homework. Her Thinker mom was becoming more and more frustrated with my daughter’s inability to follow the structure and rules.
Instead of creating a big family conflict, we pressed the reset button. We explained to our Talker daughter that her personality was impacting what others needed in order to concentrate. We discussed possible solutions with everyone’s input and came up with a practical solution that allowed everyone to accomplish their work.
The goal is for your family to take the frustration that can come from different personalities and turn it into understanding how different personalities can benefit each other.
Discussing personalities with your family
Here are some questions that can frame your discussion:
- Which personality is my preference? What are my strengths and opportunities for growth during this time?
- What is it like for others to be with me?
- Which feelings tend to blind me emotionally or throw me off track?
- What have you learned about the other personalities in your home? Any surprises? How does this change how you connect with them?
- What are solutions for connection with others in our family?
- How could Colossians 3:12-17 and Galatians 5:22-23 help you manage your differences well?
Think of creating new colours for each personality that blend together in your family. We intentionally created four colours that, when combined, create a deep green colour signifying deep growth.
Learning how to navigate personality differences can help everyone in future relationships. Each personality is important and necessary in your home, just as it was in the Bible. For example, we needed Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to get the most complete picture of Jesus’ life, ministry and gospel message. May the Lord direct your hearts to His love and steadfastness (2 Thessalonians 3:5) as you deepen relationships and navigate the gift of differences in your home.
Daniel Huerta is a licensed counsellor and the director of parenting and youth at Focus on the Family in the U.S.
© 2020 by Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Originally published at FocusOnTheFamily.com.
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