A-Head for Success

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Stress and Managing Others

Managing your own stress, your performance and productivity is one thing.  Managing these factors in others is something else.  Trying to achieve results through others brings its own stresses to add to your already burgeoning collection.  But we don’t need more stress, we need less.

Most people rely on others to a certain degree to get things done.  Whether you manage a team who work directly for you, or outsource some of your work to others, they can all bring their challenges as well as their rewards.

And of course the faster the pace, the greater the challenge.  The problem is not unique and yet your greatest asset can so often be your sleepless night.

It’s fraught with difficulty.  Someone who seemed perfect at interview might present very differently when they’re in situ.  Or they may have been fine when you hired them, but suddenly there seems to be one problem after another.  This can have repurcussions on productivity, teamwork, customer service and even profits.  It can certainly affect the stress levels of others, as well as your own.

Managing others requires an ability to understand the motivation of individuals, a flexibility in how you manage them and yet a consistency in approach.  It’s an art-form and one size doesn’t fit all.  But, once mastered, it really yields results.

So, what’s the answer?

As you might expect, it’s a bit complicated.  So, in partnership with Sandra Porter of The HR Department, I am putting on a short workshop to introduce you to the concept of effective people management so you know how to bring out the best in individuals, know how to identify your saboteurs from your superstars and spot warning signs and what to do about them.

Good people make good business.  If you want to help reduce the stress of managing results through others, join us for this short but impactful workshop.  For more information, click here for Your Greatest Asset and Your Sleepless Night.


Or call me, Tricia Woolfrey, on 0845 130 0854 for a no-obligation discussion.  You’ll be glad you did.

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The Problem with Black and White Thinking (2 minutes to read)

Black and white thinkingBlack and white thinking (also known as all or nothing thinking) can be really useful when you need a quick decision which has an absolute answer:  something is right or wrong, good or bad.  A decimal point in the wrong place can have a huge impact, even though the mistake itself is small.  “I nearly got it right” won’t hack it with the bank manager.  Someone coming at you with a knife?  Bad, and a clear signal to cut and run – no time to wonder at their intentions.  So, black and white thinking can be helpful.

But not often.  What it doesn’t allow for are the shades of grey in between.  It polarises thinking and is often a factor in depression, anxiety and stress.

I was coaching a client who had a problem with one of her team who had started to undermine her in meetings.  Her response?  To put her in her place.  The result?  A battle of wills in front of the team which neither resolved anything nor placed either in a good light.

We looked at why she took this stance and she said that she was either being honest or pathetic.  Being ‘pathetic’ as she called it was no solution.  But her honesty was such that it simply inflamed the situation.  So, we looked at all the shades of grey and came up with the following hierarchy of possible responses to her situation starting with a more accurate reflection of her actual response:

  1. Brutally honest
  2. Blunt
  3. Honest
  4. Diplomatic
  5. Economical with the truth
  6. Weak
  7. Pathetic

People rarely behave negatively for no reason at all.  Those reasons might be personal (it is hard to separate home problems from work), or they may be down to frustrations at work.  Either way, a brutally honest approach will be as effective as a pathetic one in many cases.  However, it may be something to build up to.

So we worked on why the employee might have been behaving the way she was (she was under pressure at home and at work and concerned about doing her job well as she realised she was making mistakes).  This needed a diplomatic response which honoured her work ethic but explored the reasons for the change.  This set the tone for a more collaborative way of dealing with her frustrations and performance.

In summary, if you feel you tend to polarise between black and white thinking, ask yourself what impact this is having on the quality of your decisions, your stress levels and your relationships.  Then ask yourself what are other ways of looking at the same situation.  This gives you flexibility of response and potentially, much better outcomes.

If you would like to receive 1:1 coaching on getting your thinking working for you rather than against you, why not call for an initial chat to see if I can help you?  I can be reached on 0845 130 0854.


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7 Strategies for Dealing with Overwhelm (time to read 3m)

Overwhelm StrategiesWhether overwhelm is a constant feature of your life or something which you experience from time to time, the following can help you overcome it.

These strategies came from working with a client of mine who was so overwhelmed that he was in danger of imploding.  He was managing a team of people in the service industry and just felt bombarded by demands on his time from employees, customers, his bosses, suppliers, his email and he was a slave to his smartphone.  He had become ineffective and irritable and, not only was he suffering from insomnia but he was also eating and drinking too much.

These are the strategies which bought his life back into balance which I hope will help you too:

1. Prioritise

Not everything is important or urgent. I taught him to distinguish between the ‘noise’ of demands so that he was able to deal with the urgent and important first, and leave the non-urgent, not-important last.  For more information on this technique, see the time management section of An A-Z of Business.

2. Leave it 

Some things are so not urgent or important that not doing anything about them will not have a negative impact. I taught him to ask himself “What are the consequences of leaving this, today, tomorrow, next week?”  He learned that he could safely ignore some things which came as a huge relief.  A ringing phone is an example of something which can be left.  If it is really important, the person will leave a message.  But he had, like Pavlov’s dogs, simply reacted to every ring of the phone, which meant he was often multi-tasking like the proverbial plate spinner but with much less aplomb.

3. Delegate

Because he had become very reactive he had allowed his staff to delegate upwards to him which meant that the buck stopped very much with him. I taught him how to delegate:  what to delegate, to whom and when.  This meant that he freed up a lot of time, his staff were able to take more responsibility, took more initiative (they learned that he wasn’t always going to take up the slack), and their skills were improving.  Most of them liked the fact that they were trusted in this way.

4. Reschedule

His desire to fulfil on commitments (to be admired most of the time) meant that if priorities shifted, he was under enormous pressure. He learned to reschedule tasks or meetings where other priorities came up which were more pressing.  He also learned to build contingencies into his day so he wasn’t so engulfed with commitments.

5. Saying No

He learned that saying ‘no’ did not make him a bad boss, a bad employee or a bad person. He was not the do-er of all things.  It was OK to say ‘no’ sometimes and it was not a rejection of the other person.  I taught him how to say ‘no’ without saying ‘no’ too.  For example “I would be happy to help you with that.  My time is committed at the moment and I will be free next Wednesday for an hour.”  This was saying ‘no’ to now, not the favour.

6. Setting realistic expectations

When you are racing from one emergency to another, it is easy to fall in with other people’s emergencies when they are not your own. It is also easy to provide timelines based on hope, a fair wind, and no mind to the realities of life.  This creates unnecessary pressure and is a setup for disappointment.  I taught him how to always build in contingencies to any commitments which meant that when curve balls came his way, he could navigate them with greater ease.

7. Smartphone management

It is all too easy to become a slave to your smartphone and for my client, the strategy which worked was to have times during the day where he was switched off. This enabled him to focus on what was going on and not have to react to every ping, ding and ring.  The relief was immense.  He also stopped using it as his alarm clock and left the phone downstairs when at home.

These are the main strategies which worked with this particular client.  The result?  Less stress, greater productivity, a more empowered workforce and bosses who didn’t take him for granted.  He started enjoying work again too.  I hope they work just as effectively for you.

If you would like help in your specific circumstances to manage time, stress and people, do give me a call on 0845 130 0854.  Everyone’s situation is different and sometimes working through challenges with an impartial expert can be the difference which makes the difference.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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5 Keys to 2017 Being Your Best Year EVER (2.5 mins to read)

2017 Best year yetMost people want each new year to be their best.  But with much less stress.   And more fun.  And bigger results.  If possible.  So, is it really possible?  If we accept that we can only control the controllable and take response-ability for our results in a focussed way, I would say a resounding ‘yes’.  But too often we give our power away to outside forces.  So, the following keys will help you take charge and make it happen:

  1. Get clarity

Become clear on what you want to achieve (your vision and goals) and why.  The why is your motivation which carries you through the tough times so it needs to be big enough to do that.  It makes all the difference between achievement and enrichment - two concepts which are not mutually exclusive unless you make them so.  Clarity enables you to say ‘no’ to those things which are not ‘on-purpose’ so it frees up more time for you to do what’s needed to fulfil your goals.

Clarity around how you are going to achieve it is next.  When you break things down into your priorities, the next step is easier to take.  And the one after that.  And the one after that.

2.  Develop skills

Whether you work in a corporate environment, or for yourself, there will be certain skills which are essential for ongoing success.  What is appropriate for you in your environment will vary from person to person but influencing skills are always important, time management too (so you don’t slip back into overwhelm), but perhaps the most important is emotional intelligence which is said to account for 80% of your success.  It enables you to manage yourself and others, even in times of challenge.  Of course you need professional skills relevant to your role too.  Finally, knowing how to hire in talent to support you is going to make a big difference.

3.  Cultivate mindset

How you think about a situation will dictate your results so a positive, ‘can-do’ mindset is important.  But not if it is up in the clouds, far removed from reality.  Having the right mindset will maintain your confidence levels and ensure that you are solution-focused in a problem-filled world.

Using a blend of neuro-linguistic programming with mindfulness and the principles of neuroplasticity, you can make sure your mindset is success-enabled.

4.  Become stress-resilient

We can’t avoid stress.  In fact we need some of it to motivate us.  However, if you have unrelenting stress for too long, it can derail you and, worse, lead to burnout or breakdown.  Becoming stress-resilient enables you to roll with the punches, to bounce back from setbacks, keep your cool when things are hotting up and grow through adversity so the small things don’t become the big things and you are able to enjoy the good times better.

5. Nurture health and energy

It doesn’t matter how good you are at what you do, if you aren’t healthy and your energy is on the floor, your ability to deliver will be compromised.  Just as you would take care of your car – taking it for a service, filling it with petrol, making sure it has enough oil and water – you need to take care of yourself because you are your strongest asset.  And, like it or not, exercise and nutrition is non-negotiable if you are serious about success.  And managing your energy too.  Not by pushing through but making sure that you have a natural, calm energy for consistent performance, through good times and bad.  In fact, the better care you take of yourself, the more likely you will be to enjoy more of the highs and navigate the lows with style.

If you are serious about success for 2017 and don’t want to leave it to chance, why not book a session so that we can stop any potential derailers in their tracks and make sure you are firing on all cylinders.  Because if you are, your business is too.

This article is based on my 5D coaching model from the AHEAD for Success program.

Call me on 0845 130 0854 to find out more.

In the mean time, here is to 2017 being your Best Year EVER!


(C) Tricia Woolfrey 2016

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Signs you may be close to burnout

BurnoutBurnout is that state you get to when you are so stressed and exhausted that you are no longer able to function.  At it's extreme level, you won't even be able to work at all.   You could argue that high performers and perfectionists are more at risk than most.  Why?  Because they power through and ignore signals that show they are at risk.  The problem is that the more you power through, the more at risk you become until you shut down completely.  Like your body has had enough and decides that if you are going to ignore its needs, it will just stop working so you can't ignore it any more.

So, what are the warning signs?  Everybody is different but the following are a few:

  • You veer between high energy and deep fatigue.  A sign that your adrenals are keeping you going but when you stop, you really stop
  • You are more irritable than usual
  • You suffer from brain fog
  • Problems seem bigger
  • You are suffering from palpitations
  • You feel tearful
  • You are more sensitive to noise
  • Your memory isn't as good as it usually is
  • Your sense of humour has gone
  • Your mind races at night
  • You have difficulty sleeping
  • A reliance on caffeine or other stimulants to keep going
  • You withdraw into yourself
  • You suffer from IBS symptoms
  • Your motivation is low
  • You consistently ignore your own needs

Of course, each of these may be symptoms of something else too, so it is always worth getting checked out.

In the meantime, here are 5 tips to help you:

  1. Make sure you have a balance between being and doing
  2. Say no more often
  3. Set clear boundaries at work and at home
  4. Now is the time to take greater care of your health:  eat well and exercise regularly really can help
  5. Practice mindfulness, meditation or self-hypnosis (all helpful in different ways - do feel free to call me if you want to know more)

It may be tempting to take sleeping tablets to help you sleep but these only increase the quantity of sleep, not the quality.  In fact medications in general tend to deal with symptoms rather than causes.  It's always important to deal with these issues at cause so that they aren't easily triggered in the future.

If you want an MOT, why not call to arrange one?  I can be reached on 0845 130 0854.  Alternatively, my new book Ultimate Energy (from tired to inspired) is out soon and, if you order before 29th December, you can get some bonuses:  Affirmations mp3, Overcome Fatigue mp3 and Personal Insights:  Performance and Productivity.  To order, visit Amazon and then send your proof of order to me at tricia@pw-consulting.co.uk to enjoy your freebies.


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10 Traits of Successful People

10 Traits of Successful People10 Traits of Successful People

You could argue that most people want to achieve more success with less stress.  Whether you feel your efforts are yet to be rewarded with results or your success has come at too high a price, there are factors which characterise those who have a positive success formula.  Though of course it will vary from person to person, there are common themes:

  1. Clarity

The very first component for success is to have clarity of purpose, mission and goals and to keep these in sight.  When you have this kind of clarity, all your efforts are focused in the right direction – so you spend much less time readjusting, backtracking and regretting.

  1. Openness

Successful people are open to new ideas.  They are less attached to the rigid constraints of their own thinking and instead have an open curiosity about new ways.  In this way, they evolve themselves and their businesses to meet the changing landscape and are less likely to be left behind.  They are also open to feedback, seeing all feedback (good and bad) as an invaluable source of further development.

  1. Surround themselves with talent

No-one can know it all or do it all.  The successful person will recognise that they need talent around them to support their success.  Whether this is in terms of employees, suppliers or a support network, the right people are a strong foundation.  Richard Branson said that you should train your people so they can leave but manage them well so they don’t want to.  I love that because it means that you strive for the best in your team.  I also believe that you should hire really carefully so that you have the right infrastructure around you.  All the best people have a good coach too – it’s just too hard doing it all alone.

  1. Influencing

Successful people are great influencers.  They do this by building rapport, understanding other people and having a clear sense of what they want to achieve.  They use these to motivate others in the direction they want them to go.  This is not the same as manipulation (which is totally self-serving and disregards the needs of others) but instead creates a win-win for all parties.  Influencing well creates the kind of loyalty where you are trusted, supported, and respected.  Of course, it’s great for sales too.

  1. Grounded

They have a strong sense of themselves, with strong values, a clear sense of purpose and are not easily derailed in times of setback.  Like a tree, they are both strong and flexible, adapting to their environment with relative ease.

  1. Realistically Optimistic

Most of the time I have to coach people to be more positive.  For a few, the bottle is not so much half empty but dangerously low and this can really affect their results.   For a small minority, they are so positive that they are not in touch with reality, trusting that everything will work out no matter what.  For sustainable success, a balanced perspective is what’s needed.   Which brings me to my next point …

  1. Great planners

Whereas a positive mindset is essential, its importance is matched by the ability to plan.  That’s the initial plan to achieve an outcome and contingency plans too.  If something were to go wrong with an idea or a project – what could you do about it?  This means that surprises will not catch you unawares - you will be prepared.  A case of hoping for the best and preparing for the worst so you are blindsided less often.  This kind of thinking exercises the mind in such a way that it becomes easier and easier to plan for success.

  1. Excuse-avoidant

There is no room for excuses if you want to be a success .  Excuses keep you stuck.  The difference between an excuse and a reason is that an excuse is a defense against the guilt of not doing enough.  A reason is an explanation for an other-than-intended outcome, despite best efforts.  Excuses are alibis for failure because they are devoid of growth, learning, progression.  Commit to a course of action and make it happen.  Learn from mistakes, prepare for success and make sure you surround yourself with people of a similar mindset.

  1. Practice Self-Care

People serious about success see self-care as an important strategy to achieve it.  They are the tools of their trade.  Just like a high-performance vehicle, we all need to be taken care of if we are to perform at our best, particularly when the going gets tough.  This means good nutrition, plenty of water, sufficient rest and regular MOTs just to make sure you are firing on all cylinders.  I talk about nutrition as being healthful rather than healthy.  It is possible to eat healthy food but still be missing vital nutrients.  Healthful means ensuring that you get the range of nutrients in the right proportion for sustainable energy and a strong immune system.

  1. Manage Stress

Stress is an unavoidable part of life and you need some of it to perform well.  However, too much of the negative kind can really affect performance, decision-making as well as health and even relationships.  Managing stress effectively is absolutely key.  A lot of people think they are managing stress when in fact they are just suppressing it or distracting from it.  If you find yourself eating more, drinking more, smoking more, spending more time on social media, or any other ‘too-muching’ as I call it, it is a sign that you are distracting from stress.  This might seem like it’s helping but the long-term effects can be catastrophic – breakdown or burnout.  I teach my clients how to manage stress so that they enjoy the positive benefits it can bring in terms of performance without the negative consequences.

I’m sure you know that success is more complicated than this but I wanted to share with you some common traits of those who enjoy sustainable success.  I hope you find some inspirations to help you in your work.  If you would like support so that you can enjoy success with less stress, do feel free to contact me on 0845 130 0854.  It would be lovely to hear from you.

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Emotional Intelligence – Your Secret Weapon

Emotional IntelligenceI was interviewed for a leadership program on the subject of emotional intelligence this week.  I call it your secret weapon because it is said to account for 80% of your success.  You might be surprised to learn that intellect, though important too, actually only accounts for 20%.  It is your ability to handle yourself which is what makes the biggest difference and this is what emotional intelligence is about.  And the good news is that it helps you in your work and in your personal life too.

The downside of it is that you need to have it to know whether you have it!

There are four main elements to emotional intelligence (or EQ as it is also known):

1.  Self-awareness

This is about really knowing yourself - your strengths and your weaknesses too.  For a lot of people their blind spot is what holds them back so self-awareness is really important.

2.  Self-management

Self-management has a number of components, the most important of which is self-control.  Not in a controlling way (which implies a lack of flexibility), but rather that you are in charge of your responses.   This is what I like to call 'response-ability'.  It implies flexibility and choice - an awareness of options and an ability to see the bigger picture about which is the right option in the context you find yourself in.  It isn't about denial, or suppression but about always being at choice and to motivate yourself through times of challenge and when the initial shine of an idea has worn off.

3.  Social awareness

The most important component of social awareness is empathy - the ability to understand how someone feels.  It is not to be confused with sympathy, though often is.  Some research was conducted in the US with physicians.  Those who lacked empathy got sued more often than anyone else.  Empathy can get you very far, and the lack of it can impede your success, as well as affect your relationships.

4.  Social skills

The final, though no less important skill of EQ, is the ability to build relationships, to influence, to inspire, to deal with conflict.  All (and more) come under the umbrella of social skills.  And they require the other three to function well.

To understand the degree to which you are emotionally intelligent is really difficult on your own.  As I mentioned, you need to have a high degree of EQ to know if you have it.  It is easier to know your strengths and weaknesses if you have a profile done.  This takes off the blinkers, removes the blind spots and helps you understand yourself in more depth so you know what skills you can leverage, and where you need to improve.

EQ is a fascinating and complex area.

If you are a woman in a leadership position, you may want to sign up to "Unlock Your Leadership Potential Summit" hosted by a colleague of mine, Jill Furby at Limitless Women Leaders.  Alternatively, I will have the recording available for my clients so you won't miss out.  Keep posted and I will let you know as soon as it becomes available.

In the next article, I will talk about how to deal with overwhelm - a leading cause of stress.  Stay tuned!

To your success.



PS  Want to know how I can take your performance to the next level?  Contact me at tricia@triciawoolfrey.com to arrange a no-obligation chat.

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Influence and Manipulation – What’s the Difference?

How to InfluenceWhen they first start to work with me, some of my clients don’t like the idea of learning how to influence because they see it as the same as manipulation.  But there is a significant difference.  One that sets the influencer apart, builds trust and is a significant factor in helping you achieve your goals in life and in your business.

What is Influencing?

Influencing is the ability to have people buy into you, your idea, your business.  It can smooth relationships so that they are more collaborative and harmonious, even in times of challenge.  It requires the ability to understand the motivations of the other person, their hopes and fears, as well their objectives.  This knowledge, through skilful influencing can help you achieve your own objectives with greater ease.

What is Manipulation?

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The Dangers When Motivation Blurs Perspective

Denial or TruthI usually write about performance, productivity and stress-resilience.  This article will cover the thorny subject of Denial which is a cousin to each of those.

The political turmoil at the moment has been cursed with so many twists and turns, accusations, affirmations and resignations that is has been hard to keep up.  At a time of deep unrest, what has been needed is an honest and unbiased assessment of the situation so that stability and a clear way forward can be restored.

This is true in business too - and in our personal lives for that matter.  In an excellent TED Talk, Julia Galef introduced the subject of Motivated Reasoning which she labels The Soldier Mindset.  In this, an individual will be motivated to defend their ideas, or attack the ideas of opponents.  Why shouldn't we do that?  Because in blindly doing so, we don't get an accurate picture of reality, we so doggedly stick to our position, that may take us down a path that results in regret, failure, or even disaster.

As an example, last week The Chilcot Enquiry concluded that the Iraq invasion was illegal, resulting in many needless deaths.   Tony Blair insisted he was not at fault, despite all the evidence to the contrary.  It would seem that his motivation was to forge strong links with the US, saying "I will be with you whatever."  And so, he was.

Professor of Criminology, David Wilson, has called him 'deluded' and much worse*.  Whatever your thoughts on the subject of politics, the inability to see things in their true perspective can have devastating consequences.  Denial is a coping strategy to block out the uncomfortable truth.  In the case of Blair, he downplayed his actions to make them palatable to the wider world.  I think we all have a tendency to do that, but the consequences can be detrimental.

So what is the solution?  Balancing the motivated reasoning (or Soldier Mindset) which only seeks to support your current view, with a reality mindset (which Julia calls The Scout Mindset).  This requires an ability to see things as they are, no matter how inconvenient it is, in a balanced way.  Sound judgement requires openness, humility, an ability to see the bigger picture and a strong sense of self, rather than ego.  It can be argued that only the strong can say they were wrong, don't you think?

So what has all this got to do with performance, productivity and stress-resilience?  Denial is a coping strategy for stress, usually a dysfunctional one as this article explains;  When we don't see things as they truly are, performance (the quality of your work) will, sooner or later, be affected;  When we make decisions based on non-truths, productivity (how much work you do) will be affected because you will be spending time fighting fires which didn't need to happen.

For more information on this subject, read my blogs about decision making and judgement

If you want more functional coping strategies for whatever stressful situation you find yourself in, why not book a session?  For a no obligation chat about this, call me, Tricia Woolfrey, on 0845 130 0854.



*If you are interested to read the article, here it is.

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Which Stress Personality Are You?

Stress is a very personal thing.  What might be stressful to one person, can be motivational and energising to another and comforting to yet someone else.

Yes, stress is very subjective.  However, most people would agree that stress concerns how we perceive the demands which we face in life.  If we don’t feel up to the challenges, or aren’t motivated by them, they will be stressful and draining.  In the short-term this can affect performance and teamwork.  In the long-term it can affect health and profit.

An opposite of stress is flow – when you are energised, work seems easy, you are able to give fully of yourself and time goes quickly.  You are in your flow when you do something you like and which comes naturally to you.  How you can enjoy more flow will depend on your profile – a subject which we will be addressing in this article.  Another opposite of stress is boredom.  And in many ways, this is simply another form of stress.  So the first thing to do to overcome stress and enjoy more flow is to understand yourself better so that there is less boredom, less tension and more playing to your strengths.

I use a variety of psychometric tools and one of them is called Talent Dynamics.  This is a simple tool which helps you to understand yourself more fully so that you experience less stress and more flow.

It suggests four main profiles.  I will share the main characteristics of each, as well as how each will experience stress and, at the same time, how each causes stress to others.  I will finish with a few pointers on how to deal with that particular profile. It is a longer article than usual, so get yourself a coffee and enjoy.  Even if you don’t identify with a particular profile, it provides insights into people who might be causing you stress, so it’s worth the 10 minutes it takes to read it.

Which stress personality are youTHE DYNAMO

Let’s start with the Dynamo.  The Dynamo is someone who is interested in the ‘what’ of life.  Task focused, they tend to be creative, competitive, bold and target driven.  They tend to be great at creative problem-solving and are usually intuitive.

What stresses the Dynamo?

As the Dynamo doesn’t like detail, anyone giving them chapter and verse on a project will likely notice a significant drop in their interest fairly quickly.  Because they are target-driven, they will feel stressed by people who have a more relaxed attitude to commitments, or who spend a lot of time chatting when they ‘should be working’.  Because they are task-focused they don’t always appreciate that, sometimes, focusing on the relationship ahead of the task might actually get the task done more efficiently.  They will also get stressed by monotony and need variety to keep their levels of motivation optimal.

How does the Dynamo cause stress to others?

Dynamos tend to think fast, talk fast and act fast.  They can be impatient with people who can’t keep up or take too long to express themselves.  For a detail-oriented person the Dynamo is a challenge because they will only want to deal with the big picture.  The detail person doesn’t really understand the big picture until the stepping stones and context are given, something that the Dynamo has little patience for.  Easily distracted, they can create confusion or frustration for those who are more structured and reflective.

Another way that the Dynamo causes stress is to have lots of ideas that people struggle to keep up with.  The more projects people work on the less productive they are but the Dynamo just loves coming up with new ideas so they can be oblivious to the strain these projects place on everyone else.

Finally, another way that the Dynamo can cause stress is in their communication style.  They tend to be to the point which others may find blunt and could cause them to see the Dynamo as unapproachable.  So colleagues of the Dynamo may prefer to keep their thoughts and concerns to themselves rather than highlight problems early on, especially if they tend to be the kind of person who uses wordy descriptions and focuses on the problem instead of the solution.

How to deal with the Dynamo?

Never give too much detail or you will lose the Dynamo.  Keep to the point.  Let them know what is new and exciting about your idea.  They respect straight talking, so if you think that their ambitions are not achievable it is important to speak in positive terms, offering solutions or options instead of blocks.  The Dynamo needs a roadmap to achieve their results to help make sure that their creations bear fruit.  To keep from being distracted on too many projects, keep them focused on the big picture.

Which stress personality are you?THE BLAZE

The Blaze is very people-focussed in contrast to the Dynamo who is more task-focused.  They are interested in the ‘who’. They are very sociable, extrovert and relationships really matter to them.  However, they can appear disorganised to the other profiles.  They, like the Dynamo, enjoy variety.

What stresses the Blaze?

Trying to get the Blaze to focus on tasks at the expense of people will be very stressful because relationships are so important to them.  They will interpret a smile as a sign of rapport so talking to them without smiling will put them on edge and cause them to assume that you don’t like them or are unhappy with their work.  Like the Dynamo, they will not be good with too much detail.    They will dislike being rushed because they see nurturing a relationship as the most important factor.  They love telling stories and interrupting them mid-story is only likely to have them start the story again.

How does the Blaze cause stress to others?

Because the Blaze is so sociable, they will not be very good at keeping to time and can be easily distracted.  Targets may be missed because they will be focused on relationships rather than getting things done.  They will also tend to be expansive in their communication which can be frustrating to others.  They easily feel rejected so keeping rapport with them will be very important for ongoing results and relationship management.

How to deal with the Blaze?

Always respect your relationship with the Blaze – short-circuiting this to get the job done will actually work against you.  However, if you nurture the relationship with just a little small-talk and smile while telling them that you need a deadline met, you are more likely to keep them onside.  This will be even more effective if you emphasise the impact to other people of any delay.  They will need short term goals and friendly meetings to make sure they are on track.  Remember that the Blaze wants to please and less haste will deliver better results.  Keep them focused with regular meetings and smaller goals.

Which stress personlality are you?THE TEMPO

The Tempo is very much about the here and now and are team-oriented individuals.  They are interested in the ‘when’ and ‘where’.  They tend to be grounded, calm and caring and are good at implementing.  In this way they make a great foil for the Dynamo who are better at creating ideas than implementing them.

What stresses the Tempo?

The Tempo likes to know what’s what so change can be stressful to them, especially if they don’t know why or how it will take place.  They like to take their time with things so being rushed will not bring out the best in them.  If the team is stressed, the Tempo will be stressed too because they like to ensure that everyone is happy.  To implement well they need to have a system or clear instructions to follow - they are not good at winging it.  They are very concerned about getting things right so may take longer to make sure that they are doing the right thing and doing it well.

How does the Tempo cause stress to others?

Tempos are less good with the big picture and often require direction so they know they are doing the right thing.  Because of this, a boss who leaves people to it will be frustrated at the lack of progress a Tempo is likely to achieve in that kind of environment.  Their calmness can be seen as lack of drive and their tendency to caution can be seen as a block when really it’s about making sure no mistakes are made and that problems are avoided.

How to deal with the Tempo?

Good communication and teamwork are key for the Tempo.  They will be motivated to do things which benefit the team and to be able to do things at their own pace.  If necessary, break things down so they do not appear overwhelming.  Give them clear timelines and repeatable processes as well as background information so they understand the context of what they are doing.

Which stress personality are you?THE STEEL

Steel really enjoy facts and figures and the feeling of getting everything to balance.  The Steel is interested in the ‘how’.  They are good with detail and can spot errors very easily.  They like systems, are well organised and disciplined and tend to be quite introverted and, as such, tend to be less comfortable in social situations than other profiles.

What stresses the Steel?

Steel will not enjoy an unstructured environment where change happens without apparent planning.   They will tend to be frustrated in an environment which is very social at the expense of getting things done and may be uncomfortable in social situations.   They tend to be risk-averse so playing things by ear will be very stressful to them.

How does the Steel cause stress to others?

Other people may find the Steel too concerned with detail and structure.  Their tendency to see things as black and white can be challenging to others who notice the grey in between.  Steel are less comfortable around uncertainty and change which can be frustrating for fast-moving change programs.  They may be seen as blocking to the more target-focused Dynamo and there are often conflicts between these opposing styles unless they learn to accommodate each other.

How to deal with the Steel?

Give the Steel as much structure as possible.  Communicate effectively but succinctly, making sure there are no surprises and that you give them the detail they need to feel confident about doing a good job.  High level strategy will go over their heads unless it is backed up with a structured plan of how to achieve it.

This is a simple outline of four of the main characters (and there are numerous subtypes) but, of course, people are more complex than this.  Really understanding yourself and others, playing to your strengths, working out how to work to others’ strengths can make a huge difference in achieving productivity, positive relationships and in keeping your stress levels as low as possible in a chaotic world.

A balanced business needs a range of skills to create, implement, problem-solve and maintain.  So each profile needs to learn to work with the others, appreciate their positive qualities and contributions and to ensure that they work with other styles in a productive way.

If you want to learn how to become more stress resilient, give me a call on 0845 130 0854.  You'll be glad you did.

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