Different Work Stress Personalities

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These stress personalities know no professional boundaries — they enter any workplace door that’s open to them. Learning to identify and control one’s stress personality is the key to a better work environment.

Learning to identify and control one’s stress personality is the key to a better work environment. West Coast psychological consultants Rene Tihista and Mary Dempcy identify the different faces of stress and suggest ways to counter the behavior:

The Serial Pleaser

The Serial Pleaser always wears an ever-present bland smile and feels guilty about even thinking of saying “no.” These people believe that people respect them for all that they do for others, so they try to please everybody and eventually end up pleasing nobody.

In a corporate setting, serial pleaser bosses can’t say “no” to anything. Employees who are controlled by pleasers remain overworked, overwrought, and underpaid. They often work overtime to mask slipping productivity.

To manage better, ask your supervisor to order your work by priority. Try refusing at least one request made on your time each week.

The Internal Timekeeper

The Internal Timekeeper perceives that his or her own survival and self-worth depends on staying busy. They love to do several tasks at once. They bustle all day but aren’t efficient. The Internal Timekeeper boss typically demands everything done “yesterday” and is so busy staying busy that there is no real time for his staff.

All projects are top priority for an employee who has an Internal Timekeeper personality and each new task becomes yet another emergency. Because work gets duplicated, families and relationships suffer.

To cope with this personality, cut activity list by one fourth, allowing time for interruptions, which are a normal part of any day.

The Worrier

The worrier frets, paces, and wrings his hands often. Worriers lack trust in their own abilities and always expects the worst. Their common perception is that worry will protect them from unforeseen disasters.

A worrier executive worries not only about his own mistakes bust of others as well. Thus, a worrier boss often looks over the shoulders of his or her staff, eventually driving away original and creative thinkers. They worry about making decisions instead of just making them.

A worrier employee on the other hand, tends to be over-meticulous and never has a problem that isn’t laden with disaster. Insignificant events are blown out of proportion while important chores are left undone.

Up-to-date information is the best cure for a Worrier’s woes. When making decisions, try to list all the options available, eliminate the least desirable and pat yourself on the back for thoroughness. Then, carry out the decision. Write down all your decisions made during the month and note how rarely disaster occurs. Learn not to worry about the problems of others beyond your control.

The Sabertooth

The Sabertooth personality never directly expresses anger. Instead, anger seeps out in disguise – through petty arguments, sarcastic observations or statements. These people are chronically irritable, hostile, and frustrated. They perceive the world as a hostile and unfriendly place therefore they must keep up an adversary position toward life.

The boss with a Sabertooth personality rules rather than supervises, and live by the motto “I do not have hypertension, I give it.” The Sabertooth employer won’t delegate tasks for fear of eroding his or her authority. They will just explode when asked to give explanations or directions. They love to chew up bystanders such as sales clerks, food servers and mates.

To counter the stressful effects of a Sabertooth personality it is recommended to learn expressing anger aloud: “I feel angry right now about such and such.” Sabertooths must also try to be assertive and realize that confrontations are negotiations, not yelling matches.

The Striver

This is the most seductive of the stress personalities. The Striver promises fame and fortune, viewing life as an endless climb to the top and measures happiness by status and possessions alone. The Striver’s perception is “Your measure as a person is your own accomplishments.”

Striver-dominated bosses expect from the staff the same slavish devotion to the job they themselves put into it. They consider only the production side of the business and ignore the human side of the work arena.

Striver employees are outspokenly disdainful of others’ abilities. They seize every opportunity to work every minute – at home or at work—fully utilized.

It is advised that Strivers need to learn to stick to their own areas of expertise and let others contribute in their own ways. Strivers must learn to delegate authority, to relax and spend time with loved-ones.

The Internal Con-Artist

The Internal Con-Artist thrives on reckless action but on the other hand is the voice of procrastination. This type of person perceives that self denial is punishment and detrimental to survival.

A boss who is an Internal Con-Artist loves to put off decisions, talks workers into flaky propositions and usually gets into situations that border on the illegal, unethical and dishonest.

A worker with this personality avoids work and concentrates on looking prepared instead of being prepared. These type of workers think that the current job is only temporary and that the real career lies just around the corner.

To cope, start saying “no” to petty impulses at least half the time, as a start. Bone up on the techniques to self control and pay attention to detail.

The Critical Judge

The Critical Judge is the damning internal voice, constantly finding fault – pointing out sloppy job here or a dumb remark there. They perceive that the constant negative self-criticism will make on try harder, that successes are naught but “strokes of luck.”

Bosses with the Critical Judge personality set standards that are unrealistically high. The employee with a Critical Judge personality give higher ups exaggerated credibility, feels stupid for asking questions and is generally defensive.

To overcome a Critical Judge personality, learn to be objective about criticism by seeking it from those you admire. Consider the positive side of calculated risk-taking by experiencing new challenges and opportunities. Seek career counseling and learn what skills, knowledge, and abilities you can bring to a new job.

In the professions, say Dempcy and Tihista , The Striver and The Sabertooth behavior tend to dominate in business; many Pleasers wind up in nursing and service industry; and Critical Judge tends to show up among teachers and professors. Worriers are found among accountants and bookkeepers, while out-of-control salesmen often fall into the Internal Con-Artist patterns.

While these can generally be true, these stress personalities know no professional boundaries—they enter any workplace door that’s open to them.


Ngozi Nwabineli
Posted on Feb 10, 2010
carol roach
Posted on Feb 9, 2010