Everyone is unique not only in what stresses them out but how they show their stress. Identifying the signs that you or someone else is going into stress mode is important not only to become more self-aware and understand your impact but also to help identify warning signs early on to adjust and recharge.
When under stress, some people amplify their existing working styles while others completely reverse it.
Signs that your working style becomes “overused,” or amplified, in stress:
1. Your direct communication style has become blunt and possibly inconsiderate.
2. You usually enjoy group discussion but are now reluctant to make any decision on your own and are hosting meetings to get group consensus when it’s unnecessary.
3. You typically like order and details, but now you don’t trust how others are working through them and are micromanaging.
4. You are typically agreeable but now are avoiding any hint of conflict.
5. You are a team player but are becoming more idealistic than practical.
6. You have high energy, but now feel restless or impatient.
7. Usually, you are confident in your abilities, but now you find yourself blaming any problems on others without considering your contribution.
8. You typically challenge yourself to do better, but now it’s becoming self-critical.
9. You are generally objective and focused on practical issues, but now you are downplaying any emotional feelings of yourself or others.
10. You are generally focused on the task at hand but now that focus makes you outwardly oppose any change.
11. You usually prefer conventional approaches but are now conforming without justification or reasoning.
12. You make decisions quickly, but now are acting impulsively or getting frustrated by ambiguity.
Signs that your working styles completely switch into the opposite of the usual style in stress:
Commonly, that looks like:
- You normally speak up but now are resorting to more indirect communication like emails.
- You are usually open to feedback but now feel sensitive to criticism.
- You usually like working in groups but are now withdrawn or impatient.
- You typically like order and details but are now procrastinating attending to them.
- You are typically agreeable but now find yourself provocative or domineering.
- You are usually a team player but are becoming more competitive or individualistic.
- You usually have high energy but now feel exhausted or tasks feel tedious.
- Typically you are objective and practical but now emotions start to cloud judgment.
- Generally, you are focused on the task at hand, but now you find you have difficulty concentrating or are restless for quick results.
- You typically seek conventional approaches but now have become rebellious or individualistic.
- You make decisions quickly but now over-process or ruminate.
Try to identify what your usual style is. Try to think about how you act when you feel “on top of things” at work. Then think about how you may be showing up right now. Don’t be surprised if you find that your stress style now is almost your everyday style because you have been burnt out for so long. Consider how your style changes during stress, perhaps ask a partner or a colleague on their impressions. Knowing your telltale signs are important for you to then move into appropriate coping.
It’s important to note that there are pros and cons of whether your stress style amplifies or switches. For instance, the person who amplifies still seems fairly consistent in their approach and people know what they are going to get. However, no one actually recognizes they are in stress. If you are this person, you need to actually express that you are stressed and need help.
On the other hand, the person who switches style may seem unpredictable or unstable, which can cause people to feel weary around which version of you will show up. However, this makes it much easier for those around you to see your stress and come to your aid.
We need to recognize that stress behavior is not an attribute or personality of the person; they are just in “stress mode.” Take a second and think if you have potentially judged someone’s style as an innate trait rather than just a characteristic of them working under stress? You can also begin to notice the telltale signs of your colleagues, boss, employees, etc. so you can then reach out and ask how you can help.
Written by: Lauren Florko Originally appeared on: Psychology Today Republished with permission