Previously published on Forbes
With the pandemic raging and disrupted work becoming the new normal, people are feeling resigned, mad and stressed out. Life is not like it used to be in “the good old days.” Everything seems strange and new. Most of us need help with stepping out of our behavioral bad habits when we experience stress.
At Henley Leadership Group, we rely on a tool called the Integrative Enneagram. The Enneagram is designed to reveal your internal operating system. It points to automatic and unconscious patterns you use to make decisions and get what you want, and what you do when you don’t get your way. This is critical information when you are navigating stress.
Here’s a look at each of the nine types. See which one sounds most like you under stress. Or which one embarrasses you – that’s likely to be an indicator of an Enneagram type you resonate with.
Ennea Type 1: The Strict Perfectionist. Under stress, the Ennea 1 may seem critical or impatient even when you are trying to be constructive. You may be unaware of how irritation, anger and resentment show up in your body language despite your efforts to control these emotions.
Ennea Type 2: The Considerate Helper. Because you are attuned to social relationships and people around you, under stress, you may needlessly worry about the people you care about. You may find it difficult to resist helping people, even when they don’t want your help. You help others even when you are overwhelmed, burned out and tired yourself.
Ennea Type 3: The Competitive Achiever. Under stress, the Ennea 3 may find it hard to talk about negative stuff and often rush to dismiss these conversations as a result. This is particularly true if the negative stuff points towards your mistakes or shortcomings. To others, you may seem defensive and closed when stressed.
Ennea Type 4: The Intense Creative. If you’re an Ennea 4, you can become dramatic, moody, impractical and depressed under stress, over-emphasizing what is lacking in your life. You can be sensitive to the point of feeling deep melancholy about the state of the world and the possibility of lasting change.
Ennea Type 5: The Quiet Specialist. Under stress, the Ennea 5’s strong thinking orientation and ability to detach from feelings will come at the expense of interpersonal warmth. Even when you feel warmth, this may not be readily apparent to others. In trying to explain information and share your expertise, you may come across as patronizing. This shuts people down and makes it difficult for them to pay attention to what you are trying to say.
Ennea Type 6: The Loyal Skeptic. Under stress, the Ennea 6 is constantly focused on the things that can go wrong. Your tentative and cautious approach may seem to others like stubbornness, pessimism and a negative attitude – a negative Nellie. As you tend to worry a lot about what might happen and your ability to deal with this, it can lead others to experience you as insecure. This may lead them to doubt your ability, which can have an impact on the extent to which others are able to trust you to take care of things. This questioning of your ability is what you are trying to avoid, but your cautious approach may create just that.
Ennea Type 7: The Enthusiastic Visionary. Under stress, the Ennea 7’s active and quick mind may lead to assumptions that they know what other people are going to say. This often results in you not listening fully to what people are saying. Staying focused on any one thing for an extended period of time, especially under stress, can be challenging to you. You may find yourself feeling bored, distracted, restricted or impatient.
Ennea Type 8: The Active Controller. Under stress, Ennea 8s can come across as defensive and aggressive. You will seem forceful and blunt to others, even if you don’t feel that way. When confronting people about things, your approach may leave them feeling bullied or humiliated. The force with which you initiate and drive may ultimately leave people feeling unprepared or overwhelmed.
Ennea Type 9: The Adaptive Peacemaker. Under stress, Ennea 9s want to avoid being controversial. Despite disliking it when people pressure you into something, you also have difficulty saying no to people. You go out of your way to accommodate others and downplay your own needs. So, your “yes” isn’t really a yes. You can come across as passive aggressive, which is often a blindspot for a 9.
Can you identify your own patterns of behavior at work under stress? We say: If you spot it, you got it. The good news is, once you have identified your pattern, you are already on your way to interrupting it. Catch it and make a change. Stress doesn’t have to bring out the worst in you.