How a Mother and Daughter used Personality Types to Overcome Conflict
Wedding Planning Misfires and Miscommunication
A mother and daughter working together to plan the daughter’s wedding.
Newly-engaged and realizing she has a lot to accomplish in one short year, the daughter gets to work making decisions early. The flowers will be white. The chairs will be gold. The groom will wear a tuxedo and she’ll don blue shoes. Check, check, check! In her mind, the more tasks she can get ‘out of the way’ and ‘off the list’, the better she can protect everyone from the inevitable stress and pain that comes with wedding planning.
Meanwhile, the Mother is genuinely excited for her daughter’s journey. She’s looking forward to a year’s worth of new ideas and activities and thinks it will be fun to work through the little parts and pieces. But, she noticed the Daughter seems stressed so she looks for ways to lighten the load and cheer her up. A few months into the planning process, the Mother comes across an idea in a magazine and shares it with her Daughter.
Mother: “Wouldn’t this be fun? What if you did little orange flowers instead?”
Daughter: “What? I thought we already decided on white flowers?”
Mother: “I know, but I was thinking it might be a little more exciting this way.”
Daughter: “Um…maybe. But I like them white.”
Mother: “Oh, okay…but I went out of my way because I thought this would make you happy.”
Daughter: “Why are you upset? You didn’t have to do that, it was already decided.”
Mother: “I was just trying to help make it easier…”
Daughter: “I feel guilty now. But this is distracting, I thought we were on to talking about table decorations.”
Under Stress, Archetypes Collide
As an outsider in the ‘flower debacle’ above, it’s probably easy to point out where presumptions were made, sensitivities were forgotten, or misunderstandings happened. But we’ve all been in a situation where it feels almost impossible to understand the other side. And, while this is only one scene, stitch multiple interactions over a stretch of time and it’s no surprise both characters were feeling frustrated and resentful.
Thankfully, part way through their wedding planning process, the mother and daughter above had a chance to sit down and talk about their perspectives and personalities. As part of their heart-to-heart, they used their results from the CultureTalk Individual Survey to help them each understand the other person’s point of view. It was no surprise that they had strikingly different Archetypal patterns.
The mother had a high Jester pattern with supporting Innocent and Creator Archetypes. The daughter had a high Hero pattern with supporting Magician and Sage patterns.
Jester vs. Hero
The Jester Mother
With a high Jester Archetype, the mother of the bride is motivated when everyone is happy. She takes pride in her ability to make serious people smile and unhappy people laugh. Her joy is often a welcomed relief.
Placed under wedding planning stress, she will:
- Avoid conflict, shut down and stop contributing anything
- Use cutting sarcasm or laugh at inappropriate times
- Use passive language to dodge the issue but slyly make their point known
In anger, she may have said to her daughter:
- “You’re being a fun sponge.”
- “Why didn’t you just ask for help?”
- “If you want to control it, then do it yourself.”
The Hero Daughter
With a high Hero Archetype, the bride-to-be is motivated by finishing. As the most dependable, loyal, and hard-working person in the room, people usually admire her accomplishments. But, she can easily overburden herself and her practical nature can seem insensitive toward others.
Placed under wedding planning stress, she will:
- Say ‘bring it on’ and work until she breaks and everything is checked off the list
- Shoulder all responsibilities, presuming doing so will protect others from harm
- Use direct language with a tense tone
In anger, she may have said to her mother:
- “Why are you laughing? This is serious.”
- “You don’t understand all of the stress I’m under.”
- “I just want to get this done, why are you adding new ideas?”
Working Together to Understand Each Other
With new understanding, we can reframe the interaction above and replace the “characters” with their dominant Archetypes. Taking the interaction out of the personal and into their patterns makes the conversation easier to interpret.
The scene (revisited)
Jester: “Wouldn’t this be fun? What if you did little orange flowers instead?”
Hero: “What? I thought we already decided on white flowers?”
Jester: “I know, but I was thinking it might be a little more exciting this way.”
Hero: “Um…maybe. But I like them white.”
Jester: “Oh, okay…but I went out of my way because I thought this would make you happy.”
Hero: “Why are you upset? You didn’t have to do that, it was already decided.”
Jester: “I was just trying to help make it easier…”
Hero: “I feel guilty now. But this is distracting, I thought we were on to talking about table decorations.”
With the Venn Diagram below, we can further see where the Mother and Daughter were colliding. And more importantly, see where they connect.
Finding Common Ground
Both the Mother and Daughter were motivated to put each other at ease. While their actions were vastly different, their intentions were the same. Their commonalities were disguised by their insecurities and fears, their Archetypal inclinations. But with the right tools in place, they quickly reached understanding.
CultureTalk for Individuals is an online personality assessment that includes 72-statements for you to evaluate based on your perceptions and beliefs. Users often find ways to improve their conflict management once they understand their personal Archetypes.