Avoid Thanksgiving Disaster!

By Maria Forbes
November 20, 2013

Thanksgiving Hostess War!


Monica will host the multi-family Thanksgiving dinner as she does every year. She writes a thorough action plan in which each dish is determined and will be prepared in a specific sequence. Monica usually dreads the holiday meals, wondering why she and her mother cannot work in harmony. Why would a helping hand create such stress and difficulty serving the meal on time? Because mother and daughter work through challenge in completely opposing methods. This is the same reason we have trouble working in professional teams. Even though the end result is obvious and routine, we don’t necessarily work through a process the same way. Our natural approach to challenge causes us to take certain actions; some work sequentially and others, not so much! Monica’s mother sees the big picture, a holiday meal, and she has the ability to add and subtract dishes as she gets closer to execution. Monica sees this as a ‘wing it’ approach and she did not understand why mom would insert or substitute a dish last minute. Monica’s need to follow a plan was not recognized by her teammate – her mother. While mom would have reached the goal flexibly as she gaged her time, her energy, ideas for the table and the guest list, Monica expects to stay the course until she has achieved a successful outcome and then she can relax for the balance of the evening. Just as a seemingly a well-planned dinner event can fall apart at the seams, professional peers and partners that are not aware of their instinctive method of operation will struggle to find working synergy. A make-or-break aspect of successful working relationships, our problem solving strengths will have a positive or negative impact our ability to succeed.



How did mom cause disaster for Monica?

  • She came earlier than expected and unannounced. Monica was getting dressed.
  • She brought soup to add to Monica’s menu just to be helpful.
  • She began washing wine glasses while Monica was getting dressed, but she used the wrong glasses.
  • Since mom came early, dad and four guests followed soon after, arriving an hour early, so appetizers were rushed to serve.



Monica’s mother now understands her need to follow a plan, and they avoid undue stress on their relationship. Monica is productive while she works through her task list and she has to manage mom’s potential to interrupt and cause her great stress. This once disastrous duo has learned how to make Thanksgiving dinner occur successfully! They now understand how their differing methods of operation can cause performance problems. The mother-daughter team communicates their instinctive approach to challenge as they plan for the meal. They discuss what parts of the plan are fixed, and (minor) things that can be changed so mom can be creative! The holidays are a streamlined and successful event.

Put this information to use within your professional partnerships and fuel your success!

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