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How Your Dysfunctional Family Can Get Along at Thanksgiving This Year

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and who’s ready to watch cousins of cousins and aunts and uncles silently glare at each other from across the table? Cold shoulder wars that go back to the home country, are back at it again! Who’s ready for their Aunt Willis to make some killer warm cranberry Thanksgiving punch? Who’s ready to meet Grandpa’s new girlfriend? Have some cousins from overseas that love trash talking you in another language? Step on up, we’ve got some cool suggestions on how to navigate your dysfunctional family this Thanksgiving.


Handling the Extrovert in the Family

“Handling” sounds harsh, but hey, so’s your cousin Derek. Extroverts are usually attuned to sharing their opinions at high noise volumes in sing-songy natures. This can be good or bad depending upon your interest/tolerance of long loud conversations about INCOME TAX or NOTRE DAME’S FOOTBALL JERSEYS THIS YEAR or WHY DOESN’T EVERYONE WRITE THEIR NAMES ON THEIR PUNCH CUPS?

Extroverts, when set alone can overwhelm, but when set alongside a some more passive Uncles and Aunts (in need of all the latest news), can act as a sweet buffer. In fact, you start to slowly scold yourself for being annoyed by your sweet extrovert earlier. The social traits of an extrovert harbor a sense of confidence. Extroversion is a throbbing sociability characteristic, extroverts take responsibility for their actions and then some. They thrive on coaching because they value growth. Set your extrovert family member to their strengths, coaching and cultivating growth. Place your extroverted family member next to some arguing cousins, set them near an area that needs constructive growth and watch the extrovert flourish.

Who knows? Maybe that extrovert just got so & so to talk to la di da, and hey, their voice isn’t so bad, and yes you would like to drive them to the airport, and no it’s not a problem….once your tryptophan coma sets it, you can let them take the reins of the entire conversation and just relax.


Passive aggressive cousins, EASY ON THE PEPSI FULLER.

We’ve all got them, let’s face it not everyone’s got the perfect cousin like Fuller McCallister in the 1992 holiday classic Home Alone.


Most of us have taller much more opinionated cousins, who for some reason have a “no holds barred” mentality when it comes to discussing your personal life. Don’t let them get you down Fuller, never take it easy on that Pepsi.

Below we have listed some up to date passive aggressive comments to look out for this Thanksgiving. Prep your rebuttals and take a win home for Fuller and the rest of us.


1. The “I don’t watch TV comment.”

“No I haven’t seen Mob Wives, I guess I read too much to ever really watch TV.”

Yes, they do, there’s no way they don’t watch TV and magically recycle a John Oliver joke and pass it off as their own. Without actually watching television, NICE TRY CUZ.

Your rebuttal: “Oh bummer, then you probably don’t care that Olivia Pope…FILL IN THE BLANK WITH A SPOILER.”


2. The purest news format to watch/read argument.

“You can’t only use the Huffington post as your primary news outlet, Al Qaeda uses the Huffington post as their primary news outlet.”

Look, just reading about the news is good enough, hip news outlets, what have you, who cares? Just know where the most recent earthquake was, and you’re good.

Your rebuttal: “Well what’s your preferred new source?” and then they will talk forEVER.


3. Subtle bragging #humblebrag

“When you go abroad to other countries, you realize how materialistic America is. Oh, these? These are my Yeezy boosts, I pre-ordered them and got them a day before Kourtney Kardashian.”

“I shared an Uber with Conor Oberst.”

“Sorry, Yale outlawed all forms of gluten on campus, so I’m not used to Diet Coke, I guess there ARE some drawbacks to going to one of the best schools in the nation.”

First off, everyone know’s Kanye hand delivered the first couple of boots to almost all of the Kardashians months before the shoes came out, so the lie detector determined THAT WAS A LIE. Second, don’t engage with the subtle braggers, listen to what they have to say and then take it out on some online shopping/tire slashing. Third, Diet Coke doesn’t have gluten.

Your rebuttal: “That’s nice.” *sips Diet Coke*


4. Miscellaneous digs

“It’s weird how your parents don’t have DirectTV.”

“Your dog is disgusting.”

“Utálom a pulóvert.” (Hungarian for: I hate your sweater.)


Take the high road on these miscellaneous digs, and then talk about it with no end to whoever will listen afterward (family pet?) Plus DirectTV is way overrated and their remotes are stupid and confusing.

Your rebuttal: “Thank you for your honesty.” That usually shuts ‘em down.


Follow Vitru’s 5 ways to handling conflict when dealing with difficult personalities, such as passive aggression:

  • Competing- focus on your strengths and how they can help others vs. how your strengths can bring others down.
  • Collaborating- being able to assess both sides of a situation, to find the best answer by using everyone’s strengths.
  • Compromising- being a mediator, taking aspects of both conflicting ideas and making them work in harmony.
  • Avoiding-be present for the issue at hand, don’t step aside for fear of conflict, embrace the storm.
  • Accommodating- don’t sacrifice your intentions for the sake of others, find a happy medium.


Embrace Your Family Folks and Fullers

There’s value in embracing all personality types. Many of the most successful teams or families for that matter are made up of multiple diverse entities. Use the Vitru personality assessment to better understand and cooperate with your family this Thanksgiving, who knows maybe Buzz’s girlfriend isn’t such a woof once you get to know her.