Holiday Heaven or Holiday Hell?

It’s holiday season – for most of us a welcome break from work and an opportunity to spend quality time with our family and friends.  But spending all our waking hours together, rather than the more usual 5 or 6, can surface tensions and personality clashes that are normally hidden.

Plan A (there is no plan B)

Some people like to have their holidays planned and organised down to the last detail ahead of time.   They research the resort, list what they want to do and plan activities for each day in advance.  Others like to wait until they arrive at the resort to explore the options, and then decide what to do each day based on what they fancy at the time.

These different approaches reflect different expectations about what is natural and normal and they arise in part from different personality preferences.  Being willing to recognise the other person’s need for structure or for spontaneity – they are not trying to be difficult, they are just being themselves – can help couples find ways to deal with these differences.  Maybe you take it in turns to decide what happens each day.

Decisions, decisions

People with different personality styles have different approaches to decision-making and this can cause tensions and conflict when on holiday, as there is a continual stream of decisions to be made (where shall we go, what time shall we get up/go to bed, where shall we eat, what shall we take with us, shall we be active or laze by the pool, what next? etc).  This is even more complicated if children or teenagers are involved.

  • Some people (Mobilisers) like to make quick decisions to get an achievable result. They don’t want to spend time discussing what to do, they just want to get on and do something – anything!  Other people can feel pressured and rushed into decisions (especially Navigators and Synthesisers)
  • Some people (Navigators) like to make thought-through decisions to get the desired result. Once a decision about what to do has been made, they like to take a bit of time to plan what is needed.  Other people can feel frustrated by unnecessary detail and caution (especially Mobilisers and Energisers).
  • Some people (Energisers) like to make collaborative decisions to get a result embraced by all. They like to involve people in discussing ideas and options.  Other people can feel overwhelmed by the possibilities and lack of focus (especially Mobilisers and Navigators).
  • Some people (Synthesisers) like to make consultative decisions to get the best possible result. They like to gather information and input from others and then make the decision themselves.  People of the other three styles can feel their opinions have been ignored and that the process takes too long.

Being tolerant of your partner’s decision-making style, being aware of how your own might irritate them, and being prepared to adapt, removes much of the potential for tension and conflict – happy holidays!