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Freaked Out or Cool as a Cucumber? What is your stress response?
By Shelle Rose Charvet   Printer Friendly Version

The pressure cooker is on! Longer hours, less patience, more demanding work situations than ever before. How do you respond to the pressures, at work or elsewhere, which are typical for the context you are in? This is not about major life dramas. Almost everyone would have an emotional response to major life dramas. People respond to these "normal" pressures in one of the following three ways.

Feelings

People with a Feelings pattern have emotional responses to the normal levels of stress at work. They go into their emotions and stay there. High stress jobs may cause them to have stress-related illnesses in the long term. To many other people, they seem to over react to situations or be hyper-sensitive. They are well suited for artistic or creative work where emotion provides the juice. As salespeople, they find it difficult to handle rejection and may not, as a result, prospect as often as they should.

Choice

People with a Choice pattern first have an emotional response to the normal stresses at work and then either return to an unemotional state or not as they desire, in a given situation. They can empathize with others or choose not to. They tend to perform well as people managers.

Thinking

Those with a Thinking pattern do not have emotional responses to normal stressful situations. They have trouble empathizing with others as they themselves do not go into emotional states. They will not panic in most emergencies, but keep a cool head. They are reliable performers in high stress jobs.

Managing Stress and People

Most of the population at work has the Choice pattern (70%). This means, that when faced with a difficult or troublesome situation, they will first have an emotional response. As a manager, you can assist by helping the person disassociate themselves from their feelings, if appropriate, by having them change perspectives. There are a couple of ways to do this. You can distort time by asking them: "Can you imagine what we'll think about this situation 2 years from now?" You can have them see it from someone else's shoes: "How do think our customers will perceive this?" Or you can have them view the whole thing from the outside: "If you were a fly on the wall when this happened what would you notice?"

For Feeling people you will probably have to hone up on your conflict resolution and mediation skills. Give them tasks that they can get passionate about and watch for signs of distress and overload of tension. Remember that these people may over-react to situations, and helping them to dissociate, as mentioned above for the Choice employees, may help in some situations. For highly intense reactions, create rapport by also raising your tone while saying something positive or surprising. "I'm so upset about you being upset, that I am ready to tear my hair out!" Saying something like that will get the person's attention so that you can then channel their energy on a more productive path.

Thinking people are highly appreciated where there is need for someone with a cool head. These people spend much time already disassociated from their feelings and can be called in when a rational approach is needed. Do not expect them, however to create rapport with others who are in an emotional state, because they will have no sympathy. Thinking people can, however, take the heat and will be able to stay in the kitchen!

What is your pattern?


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