How to work with people that avoid stress vs. people that thrive on stress

Avoids Stress vs. Thrives on Stress Personality Traits

Do you avoid stress… or thrive on it? Everyone has a different approach to stress. Some prefer a calmer, more relaxed day at work, while others are bored if they’re not firing on all cylinders.

How they react to stress is just one element of an employee’s workplace personality (read all the personality trait descriptions here). However, if you view it within the lens of their overall personality type (A, B, C, or D), it can give you great insight into their work style.

What is a stress-avoidant personality trait?

Avoiding stress means embracing the calm. Stress-avoidant people tend to be easygoing, enjoying a steady pace and eschewing the “rat race” mentality.

What are the characteristics of someone who avoids stress at work?

Here are a few ways to spot the stress-avoidant people in your workplace:

  • They are known as calm, cool, and collected.
  • They work at a steady pace. They try to avoid stress -- and they don’t create it by procrastinating, either.
  • They’re often grounded and realistic about priorities and what really matters at work (and in life).
  • They often resent getting sucked into someone else’s work emergencies, especially if they see the situation as avoidable.
  • In the extreme, they may have an ‘oh, well” mentality about deadlines if they don’t view the workload required to meet them as reasonable.

How to work with someone who avoids stress

People with stress-avoidant personalities are often key to a balanced work environment. Here’s how to work well with the people who dislike stress on your team.

How to train a stress-avoidant employee
  • Make sure you give thorough training that covers every step of the process. (Checklists and wikis can be very helpful with this.) Stress-avoidant employees will not appreciate needing to hunt down missing information, or turning in a project only to hear there are more last-minute steps they need to do.
  • Make note of business and team priorities when you train. Stress-avoidant people like to know what they should prioritize.
How to motivate someone who dislikes stress
  • As far as it relies with you, create a calm environment. Communicate about project deadlines well in advance, give adequate instruction upfront, and avoid last-minute changes that have a big impact on your team. Of course, stress happens in every job, but managers who thrive on stress sometimes create it without realizing the true impact.
  • Monitor the impact of employees who thrive on stress on your stress-avoidant employees. Sometimes, stress-loving employees will procrastinate, change their minds, or over-complicate things; be sure to intervene if the consequences are affecting stress-avoidant teammates, who will resent it.
How to give feedback to someone who avoids stress
  • Give feedback regularly, in private one-on-one sessions. It can be stressful to receive feedback; making this a regular practice will normalize it.
  • Be clear if you need a stress-avoidant person to pick up the pace or make an extra effort to meet a deadline.

What is the opposite of avoiding stress?

On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll have people who thrive on stress. These people embrace the challenge of meeting tight deadlines and juggling tasks. They tend to be competitive in work and life alike. Not all people who thrive on stress are workaholics, but all workaholics thrive on stress.

What does it mean to thrive on stress?

If someone thrives on stress, it means they enjoy having a lot going on at one time. They’re often good at balancing competing demands and work best with a looming deadline. Nothing motivates them like being under a bit of pressure.

What are the characteristics of someone who thrives on stress?

Here are a few signs that an employee tends to thrive on stress:

  • Pressure energizes and inspires them to perform.
  • They’re often competitive and always looking for how they can do better, improve their work, and move to the next level.
  • If things are slow, they may become ansty, check out entirely, or make new work for themselves to do.
  • In the extreme, they may procrastinate on key tasks or otherwise create stress where none exists.

How to work with someone who thrives on stress

When they’re set up for success, stress-loving people can be key to making sure your team stays competitive and comes through under tight constraints.

How to train an employee who thrives on stress
  • Be clear about internal deadlines and milestones for projects. These “mini-deadlines” can help stress-loving employees avoid last-minute procrastination and stay on track.
How to motivate someone who thrives on stress
  • Let them know how they can earn more responsibility in their current role, as well as how they can advance within the company.
  • Check in about their workload in your one-on-one sessions. If stress-loving people don’t have enough on their plate, they may become unmotivated; on the flip side, sometimes they may take on too much and need help rebalancing.
How to give feedback to a person who embraces stress
  • Focus on your department or team goals and how the person’s work contributes. This will help the person who thrives on stress put their energy towards the right places.
  • Sometimes, people who thrive stress end up creating stress that affects their stress-avoidant peers. Be upfront with feedback around this. For example: “When you changed the scope of the project at the last minute, the rest of the team had to scramble to finish it in time. How can you avoid that in the future?”

Which is a better worker: avoids stress vs. thrives on stress?

This is one instance where healthy teams really do have a mix of both personality traits. While certain high-pressure jobs definitely attract people who thrive on stress (and vice versa), most workplaces need both stress-avoidant and stress-loving people to function their best.

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