Tips on How to Handle our Family’s Personality Quirks
Love ’em or avoid them, we all have a quirky family member or friend. And if you don’t, maybe it’s you? They can make family gatherings interesting, and sometimes, super awkward.
You can choose to fight it, point it out, embarrass them, or choose a little humor, grace, and strategy to handle the unsolicited advice and snoopiness.
Here are five personality quirks and situations, along with tips on how to handle them with grace: The type of relationship you have, and circumstances, will determine how you approach and engage.
1. The Self-Proclaimed Chef: Some of us have encountered the cousin or brother in-law who believes they are a culinary expert. They enter your kitchen to save-the-day, and offer unsolicited advice on everything from cooking techniques to recipe substitutions. In most cases, they mean no harm. They may genuinely believe they are helping you create a tastier dish.
If this happens at every gathering, don’t fight it; work with it. Here are few options:
- Select a dish that they can assist you with by adding their final touch.
- Ask them to bring a dish or create it alongside you.
- Have everything ready so that there isn’t anything for them to add.
2. The Inquisitive Aunt: Many of us have that prying, I mean interested family member who wants to know every little detail about our life. You can give her a taste or a version of what she’s inquiring about. You never have to divulge what you don’t want to divulge. You can also deflect by turning it around, by asking her similar questions. Caution, she may think you’re being impertinent!
Here are a few common prying questions and possible responses:
Q: How much do you make? A: Enough to enjoy life.
Q: When are you two getting married? A: When one of us asks the other.
Q: What do you see in him? (new boyfriend) A: The same wonderful qualities you saw in Uncle Alberto.
3. The Chatterbox: That person who can turn a friendly conversation into a test of endurance. Sometimes, we have the time to sit and listen. Other times, we want to visit with the other guests. We don’t want to abruptly end the conversation or get to a point where we are visibly bored–that would be rude and unkind. But there you are, searching for an escape route.
I’ve got a few strategies for you, but first, we can try to understand why they latch on to you. Practicing a little patience and compassion may be required, because we have probably babbled on at some point, or may in the future!
- They are uncomfortable in large groups.
- They need the focus to be on them.
- They are lonely.
- They know that you’ll listen, and listen, and listen…
Here are a few strategies to politely disengage: You can say,
- “Let’s go mingle.” You walk them over to a small group, and then excuse yourself.
- “Olivia just walked in. I need to talk to her. Please excuse me” Get up and walk away. Don’t look back!
- “Excuse me, I need to go to the restroom; freshen up my drink; get some fresh air...” Hopefully, they don’t follow.
- “It was nice catching up with you. I want to visit with everyone. Excuse me.” Get up walk away and don’t look back.
4. Announcement Take-Over: Making a personal announcement at someone’s party is tacky. It’s throwing a party for yourself on someone else’s dime. It may seem like the perfect setting. It’s so practical. Everyone you know is there, so why not!
Here is why not:
- Making an announcement now obligates the guests to acknowledge, approach, and speak to you about it. They were there to have a good time, not be put in a position to have to pretend to care about you.
- Making an announcement that is unpleasant, like, “I’m getting divorced!” Or, “I just got fired!” is wrong! You just brought the party vibe down. Again, making the guests feel obligated to say something to you. Tacky!
If you must, do this:
- Ask the host in advance. Yes, even if it is your sister or best friend’s party. If they say, “no”, accept it. And, don’t pout and pull a no-show.
- If the host approves, consider making your announcement toward the end of the party so that you don’t take the attention away the entire time.
5. The Uninvited Plus-One: Before you slam the door in their face, keep in mind, that sometimes an unexpected guest can add flair to the conversation. Another thing to consider, is that in some cultures, it is common to bring along extra guests. Ultimately, as a host, it’s your job to make everyone feel welcomed.
Host: Will one or two extra guests really spoil the party?
Guest: If you want to bring a extra guest, ask; even if it’s last-minute. If they say, no, attend. Don’t pout and cancel.
Why are we still surprised by our family or friend’s quirky personality? We can’t change them, so to maintain our sanity, and our relationship with them, we must learn to work around them. Adjusting our expectations and attitude is the simplest and kindest way.
Nationally recognized etiquette expert with over twenty years of providing trainings, and serving as a source for media.
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Advice and tips provided are basic and general guidelines and options.