Severe Stress, or Being “In The Grip”
For most people, experiencing severe stress leaves them temporarily unable to operate from the most comfortable and familiar parts of their personality. Unlike everyday stress, when people are experiencing severe stress we call it being “in the grip” . When people are under severe stress, they experience a feeling of being “beside themselves.” Their behavior can appear clumsy and out of character, which hampers performance.
In light of the stress epidemic in the U.S. (more about that in our first post for April’s National Stress Awareness Month), we shouldn’t be surprised to see lost productivity, increased conflict, poor performance, and other issues adversely affecting people in the workplace.
Some signs of stress (such as irritability and sweating) are easily recognized.
Others aren’t so obvious.
Extreme stress often comes out in behaviors that aren’t necessarily associated with stress. And that (though out of character) may not be initially perceived as problematic.
As a result, these signs are often overlooked by the person at his or her breaking point, especially at work.
These stress symptoms may appear to be isolated, atypical incidents of erratic behavior. But they’re actually relatively easy to predict, identify, and manage by knowing your actual Myers-Briggs type. When under severe stress, people of each of the sixteen MBTI personality types tend to think and behave in a particular way that’s distinct from that of all the other types.
Stress, Your Workplace, and Personality Type
For example, people with the personality type most common for accountants benefit from having someone ask them if they want to talk. However, those with the personality type most common among reporters tend to become even more stressed by someone asking “what’s wrong” repeatedly. Remember though that all 16 types appear in all professions.
On top of that, the how often one type occurs in a profession says nothing about the ability or strength of that person in that profession. It’s just that certain people tend to self-select into that career partially because of an alignment with their values and natural preferences.
And while people often lean towards careers that allow them to more fully use their personality preferences, they don’t usually look at the amount of stress in that career.
For example, people with the Myers-Briggs type that gravitate towards middle school teaching careers are likely to get stressed out by “having to follow rules, procedures and routines as well as being “disrespected or ignored.” For someone like this, it could be difficult to imagine a more stressful environment than an 8th grade classroom.
Similarly, those with personality preferences who self-select into the police force are often stressed by “having to deal with others’ bad decisions,” which is almost exactly what a police officer does on a daily basis.
Our research team explored the causes and effects of stress within a number of top professions in the U.S. Based on data gathered from more than 800,000 people that have taken the official Myers-Briggs® assessment and information our research team has about personality type and occupations, below are a few common occupations along with insight into the Myers-Briggs personality type most commonly self-selecting into that profession and information about what stresses them out.
Even if you don’t know anyone in these occupations, or you aren’t this Myers-Briggs type and don’t know anyone with these preferences, read the below to get a new perspective on things that stress others out, and how they react to it. Self-awareness always starts with you, but the other side of self-awareness is understanding how you’re different from others.
ENFP Personality Types and Workplace Stress
Common occupations: Reporters, Dental Assistants, Bartenders, Clergy, Public Relations Specialists, Waiters, College Professors, Preschool Teachers, Middle School Teachers, Secondary Education Teachers
Under normal circumstances:
- Excited by the many possibilities of the outside work
- Comfortable trying new things
- Optimistic about what the future holds
- Easily bored by details
- Turned off by structured environments with many rules and procedures
Described by others as:
- Innovative and original
- Friendly, warm, sociable
- Intense and sincere
- Excited and exciting to be around
Signs of stress:
- Obsessing about irrelevant details and facts
- Being irritable snappish, impatient
- Feeling depressed, hopeless or withdrawing
- Failing to see any possibilities beyond their current dismal reality
- Being pessimistic and incapable of seeing the big picture
- Being forced to follow rules, procedures and routines
- Being unable to pursue ideas or interests
- Feeling distrusted, disrespected, ignored or not recognized
- Finding they’re unable to fulfill the multiple demands they’ve taken on
- Receiving criticism about themselves or what they’ve created
Tips for Managing Stress:
Worst ways they can respond to stress:
- Work harder, faster and longer
- Agree or disagree with others indiscriminately
- Spend a large amount of time alone ruminating
How other can be most helpful:
- Encourage and help them to take a break from the stress-inducing situation, even if only briefly
- Suggest and join them in a difference activity and a change of scene (long walk, movie, participating in a sport)
- Listen quietly and without comment to their worries and concerns
- Communicate that you take their perspective seriously, regardless of its unreality or inappropriateness
How others can make things worse:
- Repeatedly asking “what’s wrong”
- Remind them of their typical optimistic, energetic perspective
- Treat their reactions as a joke, while they’re being completely serious about their situations
Find all the blogs related to stress here.
Want to see more information like this? Learn about your own personality type and stress by taking the official Myers-Briggs assessment and getting access to the information in the personality type portal.