Navigating Personality Differences at Home

By Danny Huerta, MSW, LCSW, LSSW
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Family with different personalities
Take some time to learn about the personalities of people around you. 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.

“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. Through this test, we want you and your family to build stronger relationships through a better understanding of each member’s personality type.   

Personality Types

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.

The Leader

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

The Thinker

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

The Talker

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

The Peacemaker

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

7 Traits of Effective Parenting Assessment

Good parents aren’t perfect. There’s no formula to follow, but there are ways you can grow every day. Focus on the Family’s 7 Traits of Effective Parenting Assessment gives parents an honest look at their unique strengths, plus some areas that could use a little help.

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:

  1. Which personality is my preference? What are my strengths and opportunities for growth during this time?
  2. What is it like for others to be with me?
  3. Which feelings tend to blind me emotionally or throw me off track?
  4. What have you learned about the other personalities in your home? Any surprises?  How does this change how you connect with them?
  5. What are solutions for connection with others in our family?
  6. How could Colossians 3:12-17 and Galatians 5:22-23 help you manage your differences well?

Think of creating new colors for each personality that blend together in your family.  We intentionally created four colors that, when combined, create a deep green color 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. 

© 2020 by Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. 

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Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.
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About the Author

Danny Huerta Media Profile
Danny Huerta, MSW, LCSW, LSSW

As vice president of the Parenting and Youth department, Danny oversees Focus’ initiatives that equip parents to disciple and mentor the next generation, so that they can thrive in Christ.

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