Four children sitting in a field

by Trent White, independent certified coach, teacher and speaker, The John Maxwell Team 

Our lives are a story. Each of us have something to write, but the most important subject we write is how we treat those around us — our relationships. Think of it: There isn’t a business dealing that happens or any type of partnership formed without building and maintaining relationships. I believe the relationships that have the most value and impact are family relationships. It is easy to treat your boss with respect, to hold your tongue instead of speaking your mind and to comply with his or her wishes. But what about those closest to us? How do we show our family members how we value them?

The holidays are upon us. In these times, our family relationships can be tried and tested to the max. It is easy to become so casual and comfortable in our family relationships that we no longer try to impress with positive behavior, or in other words, we can “lose it” over very small things.

Focusing on the following four areas of human behavior will help each of us move from a lower level of tolerating each other to a much higher level of appreciating our differences.

The Dominant Personality: Think of members in your family who are dominant. They are high achievers and always on the go. When you get together as a family, the question on their mind is, “How long will this take?” They have high energy and love to get results. To connect with them better, remember that they need a little more space and control, and the chance to make some of their own decisions.

The Inspiring Personality: Think of members of your family who are inspiring. They are very fast-paced individuals and all about having fun. When you get together as a family, the question on their mind is, “Who all is coming? The more the merrier.” To connect with these individuals better, remember to laugh at their jokes and support their dreams. They will always have lots of ideas; take care to not crush their spirits.

The Supportive Personality: Think of members of your family who are supportive. They move more slowly and carefully through life. They are very kind and considerate of other members in the family. When you have family gatherings, they think, “It is so special that we can all be together again!” They love having peace and harmony in all their relationships, and will never feel satisfied if someone is left out. To connect with these individuals better, simply slow down and don’t rush them. Be sure you do everything possible to maintain an environment of peace and teamwork.

The Cautious Personality: Think of members of your family who are cautious. They are deep thinkers and very practical. When you have family gatherings, the first question on their mind is, “What is the purpose here?” They like to see quality and purpose in all they do. To connect with these individuals better, ask for their opinion and validate their wisdom. Appreciate their level of knowledge and thank them for sharing valuable information with you.

Many times we want others to adapt to us, but understanding and experience reminds us that it is more effective if we adapt to others and their styles. So what is the story you will write this holiday season? When tension begins to build  (and it will), I encourage you to take a step back, breath and work to see life through the other person’s perspective. You are the author.

To become more intentional in your relationships, visit