In honor of Halloween, let’s talk about some of the more scary characters you might have an occasion to work with. The truth is under stress, everyone has a scary side. Even the most well developed Contagious Leader, in times of high stress, can exhibit traits that make him or her as frightening as that character on Friday the 13th… to some at least.
So, what does that scary side mean or more importantly, what does it look like and how can you deal with it? Well, in times of stress, here’s what happens to each of the four personality preferences:
Commander preferences, who are normally great leaders and strong in their own initiative, as well as desire and drive to get more done and help others develop the skills to achieve the same, can become really bossy, overly aggressive, and even yell or say stuff they don’t mean in the heat of the moment of aggression. How can you handle? Stand your ground, set appropriate boundaries, and schedule time to come back and finish the conversation another time when they’ve had a chance to cool down.
Organizer preferences, who are normally very good at thinking through a situation, considering all the facts, gathering data to make a completely informed decision, and patient at analyzing a process, can become overly vigilant around details, requesting more than they likely are able to process. They may also struggle to make a decision and delay doing so for a long time, while behaving in a way that indicates their skepticism and pessimism. How can you handle? Give them space and time to think things through and avoid the temptation to push them for an answer immediately, while steering them to logical conclusions and request for factual data versus less measurable feelings.
Relater preferences, who are normally kind, loyal, laid back, often more soft spoken and gifted in empathy, can begin to adopt the mantra of “don’t get mad, get even”, as well as a passive/aggressive or whiny behavior while seeming to explode one moment and apologize profusely for the outburst the next. How can you handle? Reassure them of what is secure, stable, and constant in their environment. Give them a bit of space before putting on more pressure to immediately respond and show them appreciation as well as empathy for those things they have done well or in the way you needed them done.
Entertainer preferences, who are normally exuberant, enthusiastic, fun-loving, jovial, and act as if they’ve never met a stranger, can begin to exhibit signs of being overly dramatic, needy of attention, and highly emotional. How can you handle? Recognize all they they’ve done that you like, focus on their needs for a moment and empathize with their emotions.
While we all have our needs and our stressors, certain behaviors are just not acceptable. However, under stress one does not always realize what is coming out of their mouth or what their behavior looks like. Before you label someone as difficult or scary, try looking at it from their viewpoint and recognizing that whatever is stressing them out is really the issue, not what you are or are not doing. Rarely is difficult behavior about the leader or you, but about the person who is feeling the stress.