1st installment of a 5 part series

Your personality’s response to stress is important to understand, especially as it pertains to your work life. Think about it. We spend one third of our lives at work. And our work or work environment often causes us stress. This has been especially true over the last year and a half as we’ve had to deal with all the change at work, risk of getting sick, and isolation. 

We all respond to stress differently and that’s because of our differing personality types. Each of the four major personality types have particular stressors and stress responses. So, understanding how your particular personality type reacts to stressful situations is important. Not only will this allow you to manage your own behavior, but it will also allow you to set an example for others to do the same, and potentially help them manage their stress as well. But first you need to understand stress, in general.


Stress is just the body’s response to pressure. However, left unchecked, it can make us feel frustrated, angry, or nervous. This could be the result of a single event like an argument with another person, or a chronic condition like a demanding job. And for a lot of people, stress can result from uncertainty and ongoing disruption. In fact,

And when our minds are under stress, physiological reactions occur in the body. This is because our brain feels threatened. This prehistoric leftover is called the ‘fight or flight’ response. 

First, the adrenal glands begin to pump adrenaline into the bloodstream. Second, blood is redirected from the high-reasoning functions in the brain to our extremities. This prepares us to physically respond. And this happens unconsciously. This is just how our bodies instinctively respond to perceived danger. It makes sense then, that when we’re stressed, we often speak and behave in ways that we normally wouldn’t. And these response behaviors are largely driven by our personality type. 


Each of the 4 major personality types has unique stress triggers and responses. So, let’s take a look at how each of the styles behave under stress. 

The Dominant or ‘D’ style is stressed out by a real or perceived loss of control. When this happens a D type might respond by barking orders, acting like they’re in charge, or talking down to others to make themselves feel like they’re in charge. They don’t do this to be mean, they just feel the need to exert some measure of control, and/or release frustration.

The Influencer or ‘i’ style is a total people person and thrives on attention and feedback. These emotional needs can make working remotely quite challenging. Look out when their stress builds because they have a tendency to lash out and attack those in close proximity to them. 

The Steady or ‘S’ style  tends to move more deliberately than the other styles, which sometimes makes it harder to get started and pivot when change occurs. And this personality type often struggles to speak up, especially if they think it will cause conflict.  They’ll often acquiesce to other’s needs and demands without attending to their own.

The Conscientious or ‘C’ style is typically cautious and contemplative. They’re also logical and analytical. It’s important to them to be correct, and they want their work to reflect this as well. Not having enough time to complete projects is stressful to them as is having to deal with emotional people. And when under a lot of stress they tend to avoid the stressor and isolate themselves. 


It is impossible to eradicate all stressful situations from our lives. However, we can be proactive in how we go about tackling the resulting stress. 

  • Dominant: Before you act like an autocratic and lose your credibility with your teammate or spouse, step away from the stress-inducing person or situation.  Take a few deep breaths and allow yourself to regain your composure. Then you can refocus on what really matters. And setting a timer to deep breathe several times a day will help you ease your stress throughout the day. 
  • Influencer: You need people around you, so if you’re working remotely, it’s important to realize this. Make sure you take time to make phone calls and meet virtually with friends, family, and coworkers in order to manage your stress levels. If you’re able to work in an office setting, realize that your need for attention might cause others to steer clear of you. Remember that their needs are just as important as yours.
  • Steady: You need predictability and this last year has been anything but that. Just realize that some change is inevitable, and so you need to create some coping mechanisms. Learning to talk about the things that are stressing you out is a must. Rely on a trusted person who will give you honest feedback and support. You may still need to find a new role or a new company but learning to speak up about what’s important to you is an important first step.
  • Conscientious: You need time to analyze and plan, and not all situations allow for this. You can’t buy time, but you can manage it. Try spending some of yours meditating. Starting slowly (5 minutes at a time or less!) and being consistent will calm down your nervous system and give you mental clarity. You need both to handle stress. 


Stress is an ever present part of our lives and so we either have to succumb to it or learn to manage it. The suggestions above are simple, but powerful ways to begin to manage how your personality reacts to stress. Putting these methods into practice will help you to respond better to the situations and people that pose a stress threat to you. And in doing so, you will feel better.  Plus you’ll be better able to handle future stress.

To learn more about personality types and managing responses to stressors, sign up to receive our 4 part series here. 

This was originally posted in 2020.

Next up: Part 2: The Dominant Personality Type Under Stress

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