The last posting highlighted core personality types and their characteristics. Most people are a combination of two. While we are all unique and different from everyone else; we also share basic common themes in the way we work, relate to others, and react to life’s stresses. Below is a summary of the core types under stress. Interestingly, or ironically depending how you view it; when stressed each type can stress others resulting in a self reinforcing cycle of stress and negativity. This is why we need to get out of our comfort zone and realize that each usually plays a role in the situation nobody wants! When we overuse or misuse our strengths we push away the very things we want most in life. Talk about irony!
Personality styles under stress or tension are as follows;
D – Drivers/ Dominant – have a tendency to Dominate, Attack, Push the envelope – (My way or highway)
I – Expressive – have a tendency to Blame, Criticize, Be sarcastic, Or even acquiesce
S – Amiable / Steadiness – have a tendency to withdraw, oblige or tolerate.
C – Analytic / Compliant – have a tendency to avoid, justify, criticize or complain.
As a reference for the closest comparisons to Peoplemap personality types (Lillibridge, Mathis 1992):
Leader = D / Driver / Director
Free Spirit = I / Expressive / Socializer
People = S / Amiable / Relater
Task = C / Analytical / Thinker
Under stress each type tends to overuse their strengths – potentially triggering defensive behaviors of the other types around them. This in turn escalates conflict and tension in working relationships thus adversely impacting productivity and morale. Note: each type can trigger the others also by staying in their relative comfort zones.
When triggered into their fight or flight response (real or imagined threat) individuals naturally react to the other according to their type: this is how the very thing we want most is pushed away. The likelihood of each moving to their stress or danger zone is increased, further raising the likelihood for non productive behaviors, negativity and outcomes.
Leader type triggers (Perceived) —
- Non-productive workers
- Repeated mistakes
- Loss of control
- Passive aggressive behaviors.
- Irrationality (Emotional response.)
- Lack of logical basis for decisions
- Failure to address competence after it has been identified
- Not working hard
When angry regarding those aspects above, Leader types can have a no holds barred approach to conflict. Tempers may flare in either soft or loud tones. Either way, others know of their displeasure and may retreat or cower from their anger or irritation.
People type triggers (Perceived) —
- Not feeling valued or respected
- Being taken advantage of
- Not being listened to
- Feeling unjustly criticized
- Failure to respond to personal inquiry
- Lack of attention to personal needs
- Perceived condescension, insensitivity.
- Focus on “it” or “task” rather than on the individual’s needs
- Failure to acknowledge efforts
When angry…..People types often become passive aggressive (The power of the powerless) turn inward, so communication they crave becomes beyond their reach. They are not good at expressing their emotions when under “assault” so their tendency is to shut down. Their brain ceases to “exist” as it normally does and it almost is if they retreat and become numb to what is being said. This can be especially vexing to leader types.
Task type triggers (Perceived) —
- Work, work, work, and work some more…
- Feeling dumped on continuously as others know they will do what it takes to get the job done
- Lack of attention to detail
- Not given enough direction
- Lack of verification of information
- Failure to follow through as specifically described
When angry….Task types also tend to shut down and throw themselves even more into their work – sometimes losing track of the big picture. They can be perceived as being critical, inflexible and judgmental; which can be especially difficult for People types as well as Free Spirits not to mention frustrating to Leader types!
Free Spirit type triggers (Perceived) —
- Feeling ridiculed for their contributions
- Not appreciated
- Not having ideas listened to.
- Demeaned if not part of status quo
- Being micromanaged and questioned
- Not having room or enough freedom to innovate
- Over emphasis on rules
- Others not being able to see the “big picture”
Free Spirits will likely rebel or leave a situation…they may simply walk away. What may be worse; they stay and remain unhappy: not feeling valued or appreciated. The more they feel controlled, micromanaged or not listened too the more rebellious they can become.
To transform negative emotions to constructive use can be as simple as ABC :
- A: Affect Acknowledge the anger or emotion your are feeling e.g. I feel misunderstood, frustrated, hurt, etc
- B: Behavior. When you… showed up late, didn’t meet the deadline, etc..
- C: Call for action (Choice). I need you to:. Be at work on time, honor your commitment etc.
By understanding the message of our emotions and using an assertive approach like this; we can create healthier, more productive relationships, get our needs met and live a more successful and empowered life. Regardless of type, we all need to be able to state our needs in a calm straightforward and specific way. If each is willing to listen and cultivate empathy for the other, the resulting positive shift in interpersonal dynamics can immediate and profound! Try it out!!