Last summer I had a few things on both at work and at home, we moved to a new place (while entertaining our then 20 months `explorer- toddler`...), dealt with the nursery school`s `Sommenferien` and found out our little family was about to grow! The pressure was on. So at that time the theme of this post came very natural, how do we deal with stress and how do our personalities change when we are under pressure? An evergreen post to navigate our most stressful patches.
A few years ago my London boss organized a very special offsite for our team. It was a very different offsite from what we all expected; it was a personality test day. At 8.05 the whole team was silently thinking `what on earth…`, by 10 am we were fascinated and before we knew it was 6 pm (and pub time, in line with the lovely London city fashion). Five years on I still admire my boss' choice.
Roughly summed, there are 4 main personality traits – accordingly to the method we used - and we all show two main traits and two traits that are less developed, in normal circumstances: dominant, influential, steady and compliant. So, for example, it is more likely that a sales person has a DI personality (dominant & influential) and a tax officer is a CS (complaint & steady) but keeping in mind that a leader like Obama has a C and an S in his profile, so our traits should not define our goals. What is really interesting is that each person's traits change dramatically when you add the pressure/stress component. S becoming D and D becoming a very aggressive D.
How can we control that? Very simply put, we can't. We can only be aware of how pressure affects our personality and remind ourselves of how we come across when we are under pressure…. But said that we can all learn to be more assertive, without falling into the bordering attitudes: passivity and aggressiveness. This is what my team and I were told back then and it has been very useful on many occasions, I often try and stick to these principles (even when the moving company makes a 30cm scratch on the new parquet and breaks your wardrobe drawers…!), often, of course, failing.
"Assertiveness" comes from the Latin "asserere" (I knew 5 years of Latin would come handy at some point!) which means the ability to affirm oneself. Being assertive means to communicate in a clear and efficient way your own emotions and opinions without being aggressive with your audience. If you are planning your summer reads, the book on assertiveness written by Hadfield and Hasson is very interesting by the way. What are the key ingredients to becoming more assertive?
1 –Have a good self-esteem (or improve it!)
2 –Communicate efficiently
3 - Express yourself freely, if you believe in yourself and in your ideas, don't be afraid to be judged
4 –Accept criticism
5 –Recognize people's qualities
6 - Manage conflict – during a confrontation the majority of us becomes either passive or loses some control and shows an aggressive attitude. Assertive people show steel nerves on these occasions and try to manage the situation. Every conflict, if properly managed, can be an occasion for personal growth.
I hope sharing the above can be useful for some of us. It surely is for me to remind myself daily of how stress (at home, at work, everywhere) can have a negative impact on way too many levels, but some we can control.
Finally, have a look at this article, kindly suggested by a reader and for those who missed it, watch the Pantene `not sorry` video that a few months ago went viral, do you recognize yourself in any of these situations?
Enjoy and have a great start of spring!