How Your Personality Type May Be Stressing You Out at Work

A new study by Deloitte researchers divides workers into four personality types to analyze how common workplace stressors affect different people.

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By Lydia Belanger

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Most people experience some level of stress at work -- no one wants to make a mistake on the job. But the extent to which a conflict or directive flusters you may have a lot to do with your personality.

Deloitte researchers conducted a survey analyzing the connections between various workplace stressors and worker personality types. Of the more than 23,000 respondents, 14 percent reported being stressed only rarely, 57 percent sometimes, 26 percent often and 3 percent always. Eighty-two percent of respondents across personality types reported that making a workplace error stresses them out. Other stressors, however, affect people with different personalities or working styles disproportionately.

Deloitte's Business Chemistry research team divides professionals into four personality types: Guardians, who strive for certainty and stability; Integrators, who value connection; Pioneers, who seek possibilities and love to explore; and Drivers, who love a challenge. Guardians and Integrators are more likely to find all situations more stressful than Pioneers and Drivers. In other words, introverts are more easily stressed out at work than extroverts.

Related: Keep Everyone Happy by Making Your Office Extrovert-Friendly

"For example, while an urgent assignment might go against a Guardian's preference for deliberate and methodical decision-making, it may energize a Driver who tolerates risk and favors a brisk work pace," says Kim Christfort, managing director at Deloitte LLP and national managing director of Deloitte's Greenhouse Experience team, in a press release accompanying the survey results.

The researchers also identified sub-types within the four categories, so it's not as simple as labeling Guardians and Integrators as introverts and Pioneers and Drivers as extroverts. Scientists (a subtype of Driver) are more reserved, introspective, deliberate and likely to get stressed out. Teamers (a subtype of Integrator) skew more outgoing, energetic, adaptable and less stressed.

"Inward-focused types may bring particular strengths that can add value to a team -- like conscientiousness, strong listening skills and detail-focus," says Suzanne Vickberg, senior manager at Deloitte LLP and applied insights lead of Deloitte's Greenhouse Experience team. "Their tendency to be sensitive to others' experiences and reactions can help improve team collaboration and performance, but they are often the most stressed -- and overlooked -- members of the team."

Related: How Successful People Manage Stress

In a follow-up survey, the researchers asked 17,000 professionals across personality types about their coping mechanisms for dealing with stress. The most common strategy reported, by 83 percent of respondents, was diving right in and tackling the problem head on. Stepping back and thinking through solutions came in at 79 percent, followed by getting organized and seeking further information at 78 percent.

"For leaders," Chrisfort says in the release, "understanding what motivates workers can help resolve workplace conflicts, empower staff and lead to better results as a team."

Lydia Belanger
Lydia Belanger is a former associate editor at Entrepreneur. Follow her on Twitter: @LydiaBelanger.

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