Handling the Holidays, by Strategy

Kyle’s avatar

Joy, eh? Oy vey!

Holiday traditions can be a source of joy, but there’s an element that can also be a source of stress: social activity. Whether it’s a work party or a family dinner, the holiday season abounds with social obligations and opportunities, and not all personality types react the same. For many of us, holiday joy is tinged with sweat as we juggle plans, people, and pressure.

To keep our inner Grinch at bay, we decided to look at how the four Strategies – Constant Improvement, Confident Individualism, Social Engagement, and People Mastery – best handle the holidays, based on an understanding of personality theory. The Strategy groups are defined by the Mind and Identity traits, and they offer insight into how people relate to social contact – at a time of year often marked by togetherness, this awareness can ensure that everyone has a good time.

No matter how stressful this time of year can get, people can always pull together to share a pleasant holiday season. We’ll start the festivities with ideas for how each of the Strategies can plan for the happiest holiday possible.

Constant Improvement (Introverted and Turbulent)

How I’ll Hate Going Out in the Storm

Among Strategies, Constant Improvement is the most vulnerable to holiday social stress. Tending to be sensitive and private, personality types that follow this Strategy worry about their own behavior – and when it comes to holiday gatherings, they can easily feel overwhelmed. However, they can just as easily shine when things go right. Driven by their intense inner concern, they take great care in their approach to people and plans.

Things to Consider

Holidays are a great time for Constant Improvement personality types to set healthy internal priorities and attitudes. When they pin their happiness on things they can’t control, they become vulnerable to stress and worry. However, when these personalities make inner joy their objective, mishaps like late arrivals or overcooked meals won’t weigh as heavily. These types have the best time when they can remember to relax and forgive anything that goes awry – holidays are for everyone to enjoy.

Positive Engagement

Excess is a holiday tradition for many people, but Constant Improvement types can put their best stocking forward with patience and realistic goals. The seasonal bustle is a great time for clear communication; a blowout can often be avoided with gentle honesty about limits, concerns, and stress levels. If they’re hosting a holiday event, Constant Improvers can ask for help. If they’re attending events, these personality types can make sure their schedule leaves some room for personal time.


During the holidays, personality types that follow this strategy may need an occasional break from the festivities: long engagements can quickly wear them out. While out shopping, a moment of rest in a secluded corner of a store, coffee shop, or even a food court can do wonders. Likewise, in busy social environments, a step outside for a fresh air can center a chaotic moment, and in the worst cases heading home is almost always an option – remember that a round of friendly goodbyes always comes well-received!

Confident Individualism (Introverted and Assertive)

Bah, Humbug!

The personality types that follow this private, individualistic Strategy face the challenge of social motivation during the holidays. Busy social events consume their energy, so they may find themselves simply avoiding activities that seem like a bother. However, when these personalities step out of the cold and into the warmth of a gathering, they find merriment among those select people they value most.

Things to Consider

Those of this Strategy are very comfortable alone, and even prefer it much of the time, but declining holiday social events may degenerate peaceful solitude into reclusiveness befitting the Grinch. These personality types don’t have to embrace everyone and everything to find their inner jolliness, but they can focus on sharing some good times with close friends, family, or well-wishers. Holidays are a perfect time to expand social boundaries and take on fun opportunities.

Positive Engagement

Because they’re not particularly social, the presence of Confident Individualism types comes as a welcome surprise, one they choose to share with their favorite people. There’s nothing wrong with being choosy; this Strategy is happiest when they choose their holiday social calendar with care, investing time and energy where it counts. These personality types can ask individual friends to spend some quality time together, or invite small numbers of friends and family to share their holiday interests.


It’s inevitable that types in this Strategy group will want some time to themselves. Independent to the point of isolation, these personalities do best if they make room for their own needs, which often means speaking out before stress gets the better of them. Maintaining effective boundaries doesn’t require shutting other people out entirely; communicating intent politely helps everyone enjoy happy holiday social contact, however they choose.

Social Engagement (Extraverted and Turbulent)

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

This Strategy is all about social experiences, and holiday gatherings are right up their alley. They’ll likely jump in feet first, excited to see people, have fun, and make the most of any chance to socialize. If anything, these personality types may go a little overboard, investing elaborately in their plans and setting extremely high expectations for the holidays.

Things to Consider

Holiday socializing is like a sleigh ride for this Strategy: fun while the ride’s smooth, upsetting while it’s bumpy. These types may overreach on their ambitious holiday ideals – while such excitement and vigor can fill festivities with wonder, it also creates pressure on themselves and others in the process. If their plans don’t work out as hoped, Social Engagers may feel their joy melting away like a snowman in July.

Positive Engagement

Social Engagement personality types should let loose with their enthusiasm and excitement during the holidays, but they should also stay mindful of everyone’s energy levels. This will take a bit of awareness and respect. Skimming along happily is fine, but if the good time veers off course, it’s time to ease up and relax. When Social Engagers can avoid pulling or pushing others too hard in any one direction, everyone will share a joyous time.


Types in this Strategy will likely have boundless energy, and holiday activities won’t often tire them. However, their emotions can swing, in which case these personalities should remain extremely forgiving of themselves and others. For them, burnout takes energetic forms like frustration rather than exhaustion, and they can avoid this with flexibility and a focus on successes instead of bumps in the sleigh track.

People Mastery (Extraverted and Assertive)

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow

The members of this Strategy easily embrace a cheerful, upbeat attitude during the holidays. They’re happy to socialize and have fun, and quite durable in the face of the unexpected. When these personality types embrace the holidays fully, they can spread Santa-like magnanimous cheer. Sometimes, though, they lack Santa’s nuanced consideration, and the momentum of their gestures snowballs out of control.

Things to Consider

Being focused on fun can sometimes carry those in this Strategy beyond moderation, and these personalities may not immediately recognize it. They may boldly engage holiday social activities to unite friends and family in fun, heedless of cost or limits. It may simply be hard for others to keep up – a fact easily lost on types that follow this energetic, confident Strategy. People Mastery types can be as unrelenting as a runaway reindeer.

Positive Engagement

Since this Strategy is so capable of creating satisfaction, the holidays are a great time for them to share that bountiful energy with other people. They excel at facing difficulty, jumping into action, and shrugging off doubt and stress – invaluable skills when coordinating and engaging holiday social activities. When People Mastery personality types focus on other people’s needs during the holidays, their presence becomes a joyful gift to those they care about.


While these types are least prone to stress exhaustion during holiday social activities, constant activity takes its toll somewhere, in finances if not feelings. Those in the People Mastery Strategy are wise to make sure they’re investing time, money, and energy responsibly.

A Winter Wonderland

We hope that this look at each of the Strategies provides insight into how anyone can give and receive the best of what the holiday season has to offer. Balancing personal needs with what matters to others can help make each social encounter feel like a gift rather than a lump of coal.

Regardless of our specific traditions, personality type, or Strategy, it’s important to recognize the profound opportunity that the holiday season presents. Rarely are so many people focused on values of community, generosity, and togetherness at the same time. For every personal approach to holiday social activities, there’s a winter wonderland of immense rewards waiting for us.