Managing The Thanksgiving Dinner Table

The office is full of unique individuals with distinctive traits and special skills that they bring to the table to create a cohesive team that drives company success. With all these personalities, it’s inevitable that some employees will have varying opinions and butt heads with one another, while others will prefer to keep quiet and buckle down with work. Much like the office environment – your Thanksgiving dinner table may bring a similar mix of personalities and conflicting opinions. Some dinner tables reflect a picture perfect “team meeting” others leave the host fretting over who can sit next to who, and who needs to be on opposite ends of the table. While it’s recommended to leave your work at the office, who says you can’t take a few of your management tricks to the dinner table this holiday season?

Read further for 3 quick tips on how to manage conflicting personalities at your holiday table:

The Grumpy One

There seems to be one in every group. The slightest thing can set them off, such as too much salt in the potatoes or one of the teens glued to their phone. Perhaps it is beneficial to have a “one-on-one meeting” with this person before the festivities begin. Let them know your expectations of dinner and that rude remarks and a hostile attitude will only put a damper on the holiday cheer. You can also try to butter them up with their favorite side dish to avoid any painful conflicting moments during dinner.


The Stress Case

They are the one hosting dinner this year. They are overworked and stressing over everything being perfect, and by all means, they cannot over-cook the turkey! Provide feedback and encouragement with a compliment on their decor or table settings. Ask where you can help out and what you can do to make their job as host easier. This can help relax and reassure them that they are capable of pulling off a successful stress-free dinner.

The Political One

Much like the workplace, politics can cause stress at holiday functions. There seems to be one debate-loving guest in every group. They are vocal about their strong opinions and beliefs, coming with the agenda to debate and argue their views all night. Set some goals with your family and guests and to limit political debates. Instead, focus on what you are all grateful for and what positive things happened throughout the year. Offer an extra slice of pie or dibs on the best leftovers to redirect heated political debates!


Remember you are all on the same team and the holidays could be the only time of year you see some of these guests and family members. Use your people skills to stop individuals from putting a damper on the feast. By recognizing the personalities and traits your dinner guests bring to the table, you can use some of your successful management tactics to create a cohesive bonding experience and an evening that the whole group will remember!