Thanksgiving traditions do not have to include drama. This season we want to offer you a little insight into the guests you will likely have sitting around your table using a renown personality assessment called Enneagram. Enneagram is a personality test that breaks down nine typical personality types based on tendencies, strengths, weaknesses and more. This is in no way a full analysis on each type, merely a quick guide to navigating what to expect as you set your Thanksgiving table and how to best host each personality type.
Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler)// “Parks and Rec”
The Rational, Idealistic Type: Principled, Purposeful, Self-Controlled, and Perfectionistic
This will be the one person at your table on a diet. It’s a self-control thing, you probably wouldn’t understand. Both instinctive and passionate, Reformers often spend time explaining their actions to themselves, and to others as well. Reformers will come across as distant and calculated, so either avoid the politically incorrect jokes, or lay it on thick, depending on how much spice you want for your evening. This person is a perfectionist if you’ve ever met one. The combination of a strong sense of right and wrong and excellence leaves the reformer with a tendency to become critical. Don’t expect the reformer to rave about your gravy, and don’t take it personally. To get this guest to loosen up, pour him or her a large glass of wine and tell them it’s a new Kombucha cleanse drink.
The Caring, Interpersonal Type: Demonstrative, Generous, People-Pleasing, and Possessive
This person will be your best friend this Thanksgiving. No surprise that the Helper wants to feel needed and appreciated; conveniently for you, you will both need and appreciate some help come Thursday. This is your go-to person. The Helper wants to see everyone having a good time, enjoying each other, and feeling loved. If a Helper sees someone feeling left out, he/she will be the first to make that guest feel welcomed. Be wary though, if Helpers feel unappreciated or invaluable, they will start jumping through hoops to win your approval. You don’t have time for that. Say your thank you’s and employ this person to help you host.
The Success-Oriented, Pragmatic Type: Adaptive, Excelling, Driven, and Image-Conscious
Achievers are the trifecta: confident, cute, and charming. Ambitious and eager, they want to be the best. This will be the person in the family flag football game stiff-arming granny or the littles. Achievers may come across as being cool and collected, but they are often more concerned with self-image and others’ approval than they put off. Indulge this guest by telling her how cute she looks, how great her pie was, and how impressed you are with everything she’s been doing, (and be content to know within that you are the hostess of the year for going along with this shenanigan)
The Sensitive, Withdrawn Type: Expressive, Dramatic, Self-Absorbed, and Temperamental
The Individualist will be just that, individual. You can’t miss this guest, as he will likely be on the peripheral, quietly waiting to be approached. This type is not hesitant to be honest and is surprisingly personal when one-on-one. However, the individualist can also be moody and self-conscious, note: do not confuse individualist tendencies with preteen/teenage behaviors. Be aware: this type typically withholds themselves from others in attempt to avoid feeling vulnerable, so family gatherings are not exactly their cup of tea. Set your individualist on the opposite end of the table as your challenger (coming soon). Once things have settled down, get the individualist in a one-on-one conversation over some black coffee. Ask a few penetrating questions and listen, they just may have something to teach you!
5. THE INVESTIGATOR
The Intense, Cerebral Type: Perceptive, Innovative, Secretive, and Isolated
This person will be a different type of high-strung than the reformer. Investigators are intellectuals who want to find out the ‘why’ behind everything. They are eager to learn the ins and outs of any given topic– constantly searching, asking questions, and exploring matters in depth. This person is not easily convinced or swayed by opinions, either. Investigators are great observers and will likely sit back and watch the dinner party keeping entirely to themselves. In the event that an interesting topic comes about, or you delve into an area the Investigator knows well, get comfortable and give this guest the mic.
6. THE LOYALIST
Dori // “Finding Nemo”
The Committed, Security-Oriented Type: Engaging, Responsible, Anxious, and Suspicious.
The name says it all, Loyalists are stick by your side come hell or high water. If you burn every last dish for Thanksgiving dinner, your Loyalist guest will be with you while, admiring your efforts and decorations while the ship sinks. This is the guest who has a tendency to get lost in her head, begin to worry, start to complain about whatever’s worrying her, and want to verbally process all of this with you. But she’s loyal, right? So you are obligated, and often willing, to return the favor by listening. This is the guest who will be ever-so-slightly neurotic. Often feeling a myriad of anxieties, the Loyalist will often look for reasons to pin it– if your preservative-rich green beans become a pinning point, grab this guest a glass of wine, or two, and just keep swimming.
The Busy, Fun-Loving Type: Spontaneous, Versatile, Distractible, and Scattered
Cue the life of your party. The Enthusiasts are your extroverted, high-energy, spontaneous guests. Playful and eager, this type of person is often over-committed, scattered, and undisciplined; this can lead to having someone sitting next to you, talking, who isn’t actually present in conversation. Enthusiasts are constantly looking for new and exciting experiences, and are often distracted. If anyone is going to get bored at the table, it will likely be the enthusiast. Employ this guest to come up with a game or activity for everyone to do after dinner– this will keep the enthusiasts intrigued while also providing fun for everyone.
The Powerful, Dominating Type: Self-Confident, Decisive, Willful, and Confrontational
As Fate would have it, you will undoubtedly have at least one Challenger at your table. Because what’s a family gathering without a little drama? They’re easy to spot, too. This is the person who does not want to be controlled. They will want to eat when they want to eat, where what they want to wear, and smile for the picture if and when they want to smile for the picture. This behavior is only to ensure that they maintain and build on whatever power they have. Yes, even if that involved boycotting your casserole because you used Velveeta. Challengers can be business leaders, military men, PTO Presidents, or unsuspecting helicopter moms, and whatever package they come in, control is their goal. For a smooth holiday get together, keep this person close to your side. Don’t tell them what to do, bring them in and decide on the matter together. Challengers are often great leaders, so maybe ask this guest if he would take the prayer. In short, don’t fight it– work with it.
Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow) // “Friends“
The Easygoing, Self-Effacing Type: Receptive, Reassuring, Agreeable, and Complacent
This person is going to come in clutch at your dinner table. The Peacemaker is always wanting to keep everyone happy and enjoying themselves, sometimes to a fault. This guest will go along with just about anything to avoid conflict or tension, and if it arises, the Peacemaker will go out of his or her way to calm the waters. If you know that you have a particularly unruly guest coming to your Thanksgiving dinner, maybe set him or her next to your Peacemaker. If you plan ahead, you and the peacemaker can tag-team to avoid conversational drama.
To all the hosts out there: May your table be adorable, may your food be fully cooked, may your guests not be food snobs, and may your wine cover a multitude of sins this Thanksgiving! Cheers.