In a just a little over twenty-four hours, many of us will have our bellies full of turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and who knows what other goodies.How we will get that way is the topic of today’s column.
DISC-ing Out Thanksgiving Dinner
Whether it is Uncle Bob, Grandma, or cousin Sue, there are basically four different ways people prepare and celebrate for the holiday. They fit what is commonly called the DISC behavioral style model. DISC is an acronym standing for Direct, Influencing (or Interacting), Steady, and Compliant (or Conscientious) – in other words, how people respond to problems, people, pace and procedures. Even if you never have heard of DISC before, you will certainly recognize a few relatives, friends or acquaintances who exhibit these classic behavioral styles, representing D-I-S-C.
Thanksgiving dinner is an event to High D behavioral types, The guest list is figured out on the fly, most likely on the back of a napkin or on whatever writing surface is handy. Seating often resembles a strategic planning event. In fact, Thanksgiving dinner is the perfect venue to discuss a few business deals that just can’t get done during working hours. High D behavioral types shop for groceries without a list. The fact of the matter is they don’t have any idea what they’ll serve for dinner – they’ll know a good deal when they see it. If the long lines at checkout are too long, they may decide to make reservations at a local restaurant or country club or even order take out. Where ever and whenever they eat, they chose the place, meal and time. To high D’s recipes are only guides. They add and substitute ingredients at will and use gravy and sauces to cover up the “mistakes”. Microwaveable foods are a staple. If D-types actually do any cooking, the kitchen may be a mess but they know exactly where everything is. They will be in control. If your host is D behavioral style, don’t be surprised to get a call on your mobile while on your way to stop for ice. When the D is ready to eat, he/she tells his guests where to sit. During dinner, expect a blow-by-blow description of each course. You’ll hear how much time, money or effort it took to prepare. Recipes are described as “best”, “special”, “can’t be beat”, and “great deals.”
High I behavioral types don’t prepare dinner, they plan a party. They insist on only one rule – NO business talk! Grocery shopping is an experience – they go to the store at the busiest time so they can socialize and meet people. I-behavioral types may spend more time in the party store picking up holiday table cloths, napkins, dishes and decoration more than they do in the grocery store. They carry dozens of coupons, torn (not cut) from newspapers and magazines, stuffed in no particular order into an envelope or purse. I-behavioral types know where everything is in the store, whether you ask them to tell you or not. The guest list includes family, friends, neighbors and anyone who might otherwise have to eat dinner alone. The list resembles the yellow pages. I-types can’t remember everyone they invited so they set extra places just in case extra people drop by. What time is dinner? Just drop-in. A menu? You’ve got to be kidding. The menu is potluck and the I-type just asks everyone to bring something along. I’s use recipes but never measure ingredients and substitute freely. They may even experiment with a new recipe. Foods are selected for color, texture, and whatever looks good in their favorite bowls and dishes. They describe each course by how much fun it was to make it or a history on who gave them the recipe. Seating? Sit wherever you’d like. When it comes time to clean-up, guests will be scooted out the door – you’ll hear, “I love to clean up.” As soon as the last guest leaves, the I-behavioral type host plops down on the couch and “wishes” the dirty dishes away. “They will still be there tomorrow”, the I-type thinks aloud, and puts off today what can be done tomorrow – still wishing for the “dish fairy” to come along while he/she is sleeping!
High S behavioral types prepare dinner for the entire family. In fact, they will prepare enough food to feed a neighborhood. You never know a guest may lot like a particular food or course, so the S prepares back-ups. “Family” for an “S” may include neighbors or anyone who doesn’t have family to share the holiday with. “How terrible to spend the holiday alone” they think. They begin planning dinner weeks ahead by preparing a list. Next, they begin to clip coupons, even ones they don’t need, just in case they meet someone at the store who doesn’t have the right one. This list takes weeks to prepare. Finally the cooking begins. S-behavioral types begin making the feel-good foods first, desserts and appetizers, weeks ahead of time. Personalized invitations are prepared for guests, a few S-types preferring the hand-written invitation, taking the time to personalize each note. Every course is prepared from scratch using his/her favorite recipes, including special foods for the kids and anyone on a special diet. Often times the recipes are family traditions, handed down through the generations. They rarely use the microwave except for warming things up. Guests are seated in groups by family and friends. During dinner the S-behavioral type offers to share his/her recipes with everyone and likely have copies already prepared for distribution. There is always extra food for guests to take home in doggy-bags. The doggy bags may even have each guest’s name on them including a label with what’s inside and the date.
High C behavioral types prepare dinner for just the immediate family or may even prefer to eat alone. Dinner is more like a tradition or ritual than a celebration. Guests receive a formal invitation and an RSVP is required. C-types shop with coupons which are organized by aisles. They have a budget and click off items on a calculator as they work their way up and down the aisles. C-types have a practice run of each course throughout the preceding week. Recipes are followed exactly as written using measuring cups, utensils and timers. C-behavioral types would never think of substituting an ingredient, not even one brand for another. Guests have assigned seats and name cards are typed at each setting. (The cards are saved after each meal and re-used at future family events.) Rarely do C-types have any food left over – that would mean they made a mistake. If food is left over, they store it by meals in compartmentalized containers, just like the old “TV dinner”. If asked about a recipe, C’s describe each course in excruciating detail including the cost of the ingredients, the best place to purchase them, the best time to shop. The recipes are available upon request, which are stored in alphabetical order on computer printouts in the filing cabinet. After dinner, C’s refuse everyone’s offer to clean up – they have an unchangeable routine and a special place for everything. If by chance you get to peek inside their cabinets, don’t be surprised to see the canned goods alphabetized and sized. If the C-Behavioral type does allow you to help, expect explicit instructions how to wash, dry, and put things away…and criticism when you don’t do it exactly the “right” way. No one can clean up or put away the dishes as good as the high C behavioral type- so they think!.
A most important take-away from understanding behavioral types is that no one style is right or wrong. Likewise there is not one right way or one wrong way to prepare Thanksgiving dinner.
There is, however, a right way to celebrate Thanksgiving – be thankful for the opportunity to share Thanksgiving with friends and relatives, be thankful for the food you enjoy, be thankful for whomever prepares your meal, and be thankful we can laugh at our behavior!
Did you recognize any relatives or friends in these descriptions? Or maybe you experience a grimace or grin when a particular style revealed a little about you too. Whatever the situation, Happy Thanksgiving!
Interested in DISC? Click here.