TYPE A PERSONALITY
Each personality type has its own extrinsic and intrinsic traits. Extrinsic traits are associated with matters that are likely to produce stress (fear related). Intrinsic traits are more associated with things that reduce stress (joy related).
However, this is not an either/or situation. Each trait can work independently or concurrently.
A. What are the Type A Personality Extrinsic Traits (Fear Related)
Look at the second soldier in the photo. What popped into your head first?
Was it a positive impression such as “I will always be there for you?” Or was it something more negative? If your thoughts were on the positive side, it indicates that you may be an optimist. This would be consistent with a Type A personality.
Here’s a more hidden question, do you think you can bluff that soldier?
Click on the link for a greater insight. You may find a little more “A” inside you than you thought.
1. Loyalty. This means a strong feeling of devotion, support, or allegiance. Historical records classify loyalty as the pinnacle of all truths. The Greeks felt that this trait was so powerful that only the gods could handle it.
The loyalty trait is a part of all personality types. However, the A-Types elevate it a dominate extrinsic trait.
Many believe that loyalty is one-directional. That is, a devotion to the Type-A, rather than from the Type-A. But you would be wrong. The Type A Personalities use loyalty to fiercely protect and benefit those in their family, clan, or group.
Jack Nicklaus, a famous professional golfer, illustrates the benefits of giving loyalty to others. He was loyal to his family, trainer, caddie, and all of his employees. He included them in his successes.
Loyalty turns out to be infectious. Those who receive it invariably returned it.
2. Protection. The Type A stands guard from all outside forces, i.e., events and people from outside the family or clan. They will act swiftly to protect those against these intruders.
They honor the protection traits to the point that once triggered, they respond impulsively. This means that the A-type’s “go-to” move from a perceived threat is to “attack.” As such, it would be a bad idea to jump out from behind a bush to scare them.
With respect to these outside threats, the Type A person will not blame fellow members for the problems. Therefore, if the A-type person is depressed, the spouse or fellow clan members should not interpret the depression as being their fault.
Mounting a defense before knowing the facts will likely end up compounding the problem. Asking, “Is there something bothering you?” will avoid unnecessary stress.
Protection against inside forces (actions or inactions by clan members) are treated differently. The A Type often feels uncertain as to what to do, particularly from emotional threats. This is more within the domain of the B Types.
But if a clan member screwed up then that person should be prepared to mount a strong, cogent defense. Mounting no defense implies weakness, which is often worse than the original mistake.
The Type A Personality knows from their own experience that mistakes are direction signs to victories. To avoid unnecessary stress, people should not exaggerate or over-think their mistakes. They happen every day to every person. Worrying about your screw-ups can indicate a sign of weakness. Working to prevent another mistake evidences power.
If you screwed up in a big way, your strongest defense is finding a hidden benefit. This is what the A Type Personality wants to hear. Crying and blaming others does not imply strength. And finding a benefit is almost always present.
For example, a 21-year-old daughter takes off to work in the Texas oil fields with her boy-friend who had a reputation of spending money. After a year, she returned home heavily in debt.
Can you find any potential hidden benefits?
The daughter learned, albeit the hard way, the value of budgeting. No college course, book, or internet video can teach the real-life importance of sticking to a budget.
Can you find any other benefits?
- Independence. (It takes courage to face the unknown.)
- Willingness to work. (She sought out employment.)
- Endurance. (A year is not a short time for a 21-year-old.)
- Functional economics. (A debt will follow you and does not simply disappear.)
This illustrates the importance of searching for and then finding hidden benefits.
3. Courage/Bravery. The conventional dictionary definition of courage is the ability to face danger. Bravery is the act of carrying out courage.
But danger does not necessarily mean risk of injury, it is more often a perceived danger, i.e., anything that causes fear. For example, a claustrophobic person getting into an elevator takes courage.
A famous, professional baseball pitcher recalled that it took more courage asking the parents of his 15-year-old girlfriend if he could take their daughter to the movies than facing home run power hitters during the World Series.
Of all the personality types, the Type A’s excel in courage and bravery. Courage also tends to suppress the fear of consequences.
This is one of the reasons why bluffing is seldom effective against a Type A Personality. If anything, they will use the other person’s bluff to their advantage by waiting to mount a counterstrike when the other hesitates to the assess the reaction.
It is a well-known strategy in poker that a professional gambler rarely bluffs the player in control, i.e., the one holding the most money. You practice the “bluff” on players who are looking for reasons to fold.
Hence, to reduce stress, the spouse or other clan members should think long and hard before invoking the bluff.
4. Decision making. Making decisions provides a great pleasure for the A Type. They believe in the adage that:
A bad decision is better than making no decision at all.
Why? Because rectifying a bad decision remains an option. But a non-decision lies in perpetual limbo. Social, economic advancement, or scientific breakthrough rarely, if ever, occurs from a non-decision.
In the mind of an A-type there are no bad decisions, only bad results. They are considerably different.
A farmer’s decision not to plant his corn because of an uncertain market, will always yield no corn, whereas an uncertain market may sometimes yield a bad result.
It would cause unnecessary stress to argue about a bad decision. There are always benefits from any decision.
For example, find the hidden benefits from this situation:
An A-type male had high stress levels and elevated blood pressure. He and his wife made the decision to adopt a puppy. Every time they returned home the puppy would wag its tail and express extreme pleasure. And each time this happened, the couple smiled and experienced warm, satisfying feelings. The husband’s stress levels dropped as did his blood pressure.”
There are at least 9 hidden benefits. How many did you find? Why is this important?
When the puppy makes a potty-training mistake, DO NOT ATTACK the decision to get the puppy. That would be an attack on the A type’s trait of decision making.
5. Ambition. This is an addictive consequence of winning. Ambitious people focus on execution and are willing to take risks. They seldom walk away from tasks.
Spotting the ambitious ones is not difficult. If everyone had a bucket list (things you want to do before dying), the people who accomplished most of the things on their list would be the ambitious ones.
The A type will strive to become better, more powerful, and to reach the next higher level quickly. To accomplish that, they must accept more and more responsibilities. This requires that they delegate. Micro-management is not a typically characteristic of an A-type.
If ambitious people do not learn how to delegate, there will be stress in accomplishing all of the tasks. Compounding the stress is that the A-type would likely perceive the inability to complete all of the tasks as a failure. Generals without lieutenants and lieutenants without master sergeants are doomed to fail. Therefore:
Ambition and delegation are inseparable.
If you are an A-type person who is depressed because you are not getting things done, ask yourself the three W’s: What? Who? When?
- What can I delegate?
- Who can I delegate it to?
- When can I delegate it?
6. Control/Power. This is the broadest of the traits, involving physical, psychological, economic, spiritual, and sexual aspects of human life. A few are listed here:
Body positioning illustrates physical control. An A Type Personality will seek out the center stage position. This is not to show that they are the most popular, but it is based on the fact that the audience must see them before the others. The use of status or ranking achieves the same result. For example, a 4-star general commands center stage over a 1-star general. The president of a company commands position preferences over the managers. Placing the president in the back or to the side would be ill advised.
Psychological control is very broad. The most pervasive and effective is economic power. Everyone knows when it is asserted. Flaunting power too frequently may signal insecurity to the keen observer.
Sexual power is the ability to influence a result using sexual prowess. An attractive person can obtain higher tips based purely on their looks and sexual overtones. Sexual power is not to be confused with sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is an illegal act associated with the improper use of economic or physical power.
Communication power is the primary reason A Type people join debate clubs. The ability to respond with compelling arguments to every situation is an effective negotiation tool. When A Types encounter better debaters, the smart ones “delegate” the task to someone who is better.
Information power is different from information. Information is what describes the Universe and everything within it. Information power is using information to obtain an advantage.
Moral power uses ethics to influence others. Since the A Type is not motivated by personal relationships, they are only interested in this type of power to the extent that it can be used to obtain an advantage.
Word power is the use of words that imply or convey power. There are thousands of power words. Typically, these words are not subject to misinterpretation and leave little room for negotiation. The word “shall” is an example. It carries much more weight than “should.”
7. Workaholic. A Types are often workaholics. Forbes magazine ranked workaholics as altruistic, modest, imaginative and several other positive traits.
The School of Business at University of Texas reported that female workaholics do not reap as many rewards as their male counterpart workaholics. This means that, in general, female workaholics have more stress than their male counterparts.
8. Responsibility. This is understanding and accepting duty and being accountable for actions taken. This is a trait that evolves from experiences and learning.
Buying something on credit without any plan to pay for it, is not responsible and will eventually cause stress. Going to school with a schedule for studying is responsible. There are many more obvious examples of responsibility. But there are hidden aspects as well.
The adages that “you’re not responsible for anyone else’s happiness” and “you are responsible for your own happiness,” are true.
But they are difficult to learn and apply. A Types have no problem using these learned traits in the business world, but have difficulty applying them to personal relationships.
For example, all parents want their children to be happy. They take extraordinary steps to make sure that happens. But be careful. These efforts can be interpreted by your children as attempts to control them. This has the exact opposite effect. This is a good reminder that if your children are not happy, it is for them to resolve. You are there to protect them, listen to them, teach them, and give them guidance.
If you are not happy, then blaming it on someone else (and you can always find reasons) will only lead to more stress. Only when you understand that your happiness is your own responsibility, that you can start working on solutions. Luckily, if you are unhappy, it is often easy to resolve.
Ask yourself two questions:
- Why am I not happy?
- What can I do?
There are several fun quizzes that can help with these questions and answers.
B. What are the Type A Personality Intrinsic Traits (Joy Related)?
Winning is the main intrinsic trait. But like loyalty, it may not be what you are thinking. The traditional view is that for someone to win there must be a loser.
Winning does not necessarily require a loser. For example, finding the best spouse is considered the biggest win along with having children. Those wins are not measured by who loses.
All personality traits share these intrinsic characteristics. Although, these traits can be used offensively, i.e., to distract or gain an advantage, this section deals mainly with the stress reducing aspects.
1. Love/Family. The A Type considers love and family as core values. A core value may weaken or strengthen with time, but it does not suddenly start or stop. It has genetic roots and includes portions of loyalty, responsibility, perseverance, inner peace, justice, and around 40 other basic characteristics.
Slow to Propose. Because this decision is so important, the Type A person will not jump into a marriage quickly.
On the other hand, once they decide on a mate, they will not wait for years to decide. If the Type A person has not popped the question in the first 1-2 years, there is a good possibility that they will move on.
But after marriage, if you get seriously ill, the Type A mate will be by your side.
Should the Same or Opposite Personality Types Marry? A study using the Myers Briggs model (16 traits) reported that couples with 2 or 3 traits in common have the best chance for a lasting marriage; whereas couples having no traits in common or those having more than 4 common traits had lower percentages. This indicates that one should not marry a person too similar to yourself nor marry a person who is too opposite.
However, the results of this study are based on responses from non-randomized samplings. This means that the opinion has as much probability of being wrong as it does in being right.
But it does seem logical.
2. Compassion/Empathy. Compassion is sympathy for the suffering of others. Empathy is understanding the feelings of others.
Type A personalities have great compassion/empathy for members within their family and clan, but it arises more from the loyalty trait.
There also appears to be an age connection. The majority of the people forming philanthropic organizations based on compassion/empathy are Type A personalities nearing the end of their productive lives. This illustrates the complexities, variabilities, and inconsistencies in trying to connect personality traits to groups of people.
3. Sorrow. This is a feeling of regret or disappointment for the misfortune suffered by oneself or others. Feeling sorry for yourself is a catch-22 for a Type A. It is considered a sign of weakness. As a consequence, the more they feel sorry for themselves, the more depressed they will become. Therefore, they will build a massive wall between themselves and sorrow.
With respect to the misfortune of others, A Types feel sorrow, but mostly for members of their clan. In this regard, they will be extremely supportive in helping members. But not so much for strangers.
4. Happiness. Happiness is the phrase often used to mean that everything in a person’s life is good, meaningful, and worthwhile. The Type A individuals believe that happiness is connected to having a meaningful job, producing an adequate income, and providing a safe environment.
5. Humor. There have been numerous studies investigating whether there is a connection between types of humor and personality traits.
These studies reference anecdotal surveys and not scientific investigations. Humor has little to do with the personality type and more to do with the purpose for seeking humor.
With respect to the health benefits, the Mayo Clinic™ reports that humor is a powerful stress-relief therapy.
If stress reduction is the motivating factor, then all personality types would likely seek out stress-reducing types of humor.
This includes self-enhancing, positive, music-integrated type humor.
If humor is sought for other purposes, then it depends on the reasons, the similarities of audience viewpoints, and the expected or anticipated outcomes.
6. Entertainment – Sports – Movies – Books – Music. The discussion regarding humor also applies to entertainment. Personality types and entertainment genre is less important than the reason for seeking the entertainment.
One specific category is instructive—i.e., sports related. There is a general assumption that Type A personalities are physically active, strong, and prone to competitive sports. This is consistent with their personalities. But, jumping to one conclusion without investigating other reasons is often wrong.
Hormones, particularly testosterone, impart aggression in men AND women. Testosterone peaks at the age of 20 in men and diminishes each year thereafter. The hormone estrogen produces mood swings. This illustrates that personality traits can change depending on hundreds of factors, such as age, hormones, drugs, sex, etc.
Interest in entertainment also varies with geographic location. People from Cuba would likely be more interested in baseball than in horse racing; and people in India would probably enjoy watching cricket more than people from the United States. Therefore, in order to connect a personality trait with a specific entertainment genre requires far more information.
An 80-year-old grandfather may not get excited with professional sports, but he definitely becomes ecstatic if his four-foot two-inch, 13-year-old, eighth-grade grandson steals the basketball at mid-court and throws it in the air toward the basket. That’s when the grandfather stands up among a cheering crowd screaming, “That’s my grandson.”
It’s not the score that the grandfather is cheering. It’s the courage it took for boy to go out for the team, the bravery to face the other team in front of hundreds of onlookers, the audacity to steal the ball, and the nerve to shoot it.
The score seems almost minuscule in comparison.
There are other caveats in entertainment. Music and dancing have deep roots in reproduction. Insects do elaborate dances to attack mates. Birds sing beautiful songs to entice the other sex. Even in humans, there is a long history of using song and dance to attract a mate. These songs and dances have little to do with personality traits and everything to do with procreation.
On the other hand, many 80 year olds listen to music and enjoy dancing. It is highly unlikely that reproduction is on their minds.
C. How to Appeal to an A Type Person.
Every trait has a positive and a negative side. Examples are obvious – Love and Hate, Strong and Weak, etc.
This means that every positive trait has a flip side, and every negative trait carries advantages.
Hints about what appeals to the A Type is as simple as looking at these traits. But what looks like an easy task hides behind a forest of emotions.
For example, what is the benefit in playing the lottery? If you said the chance of winning millions, you’d be wrong. It’s more than 4 times less likely than being hit by a meteorite. Can you picture walking out of the lottery building with 2.8-million-dollar check in your pocket just to be hit by a meteorite?
No. The real benefit from that two-dollar ticket is the dream of winning and the fantasizing about spending that money. Those emotions accompany every ticket.
1. Physical Presence During Wins. Being present during all major wins appeals to the Type A Personality. Some call it the “lucky shirt” syndrome. It only takes a couple of wins to become the lucky shirt. And it is not the size of the win. It only requires you to be there to share the victory.
Don’t assert that the win was because of your efforts, but do not deny your contributions. Failure to accept a compliment is a sign of weakness.
If you are given a compliment, never say that “it was no big deal” or that “I was lucky.” The correct response is, “Thank you.” Modesty is not considered a positive trait by A types.
It would be wiser to suggest that the boss/spouse was responsible for the win, and that you were glad to assist. Bring a bottle of champagne, a congratulatory balloon, or a card to reinforce the importance of the win.
2. Praise. All personality types appreciate compliments for real accomplishments. But phony compliments do the opposite.
This personality has progressed up the ranks by observing. They can spot a fake compliment a mile away.
Praise the spouse, children, and other clan members for real accomplishments. Cards sent for special occasions (i.e., children’s graduations or anniversaries) are preferred. Handwritten comments add a personal touch.
3. Criticism. Criticism is always a touchy topic. A-Types dislike criticism unless they specifically request it. Unsolicited criticism may be viewed as an attack on their authority.
On the other hand, if asked, honesty is important. Failure to provide criticism when asked or giving watered-down answers may be viewed negatively.
4. Task Acceptance & Completion. Do extra tasks. However, make sure the extra task does not appear as if it is going around the boss. To avoid being misconstrued, talk to the boss’s assistant or friend about the topic before taking action.
Accomplish as many tasks as you can before the scheduled or expected time period. Make sure the boss/spouse/assistant knows your efforts. This can be done by hand delivering the project with a comment like, “I hope you don’t mind that I finished 2 days early.”
5. Workaholic Issue. Most are workaholics appreciate other workaholics. Work late in a way that can be observed. If the boss leaves at 4:30 pm try to leave later. Leave the lights on in your office once in a while, if you leave early.
6. Get to the Point. In meetings with a Type A Personality get to the basic point at the start and then fill in the blanks as needed.
7. Gifts. Gifts and rewards should relate to wins or accomplishments. Touchy-feely gifts should be avoided. Poetry, when directed to an important point, can be appreciated.
8. Avoid Showing Weakness. Never state that you are stressed, vulnerable, overworked, or a need to find yourself. Medical restrictions should be kept to yourself unless it interferes with the assigned tasks.
9. Avoid Being the Bearer of Bad News. The Roman emperors executed the bearer of bad news based on the fallacy of “guilt by association.”
As such, if you did not cause the problem then the news should come from someone else. But this creates the danger that the other person may blame the bad news on you. However, if you have proof that you did not cause the bad news then blaming you will backfire.
If you caused the bad news, you need to be the one to inform the boss. Your best defense is to point out the hidden benefits. There are always hidden benefits. They are just hard to find.
D. Weaknesses and Dislikes.
The A Types are accustomed to being in control. They enjoy making decisions and lack patience with others who don’t act. Therefore, their greatest weakness is making hasty decisions.
Every strength carries a reciprocal weakness, i.e., for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
1. Arrogance. The dictionary defines arrogance as an exaggerated sense of one’s own importance. Arrogance does not necessarily require someone to boast about their self-importance. People boasting about how important, or how rich they are, often indicates the opposite. Most manipulators boast and exaggerate their accomplishments. It is a giant red flag implying caution.
Arrogance is a natural consequence from winning and is a form of confidence. However, when confidence results in ignoring or deferring other valid information or opinions, it becomes a detriment. This can negatively affect decision making, protection, ambition, control, etc. When this happens the Type-A must take corrective actions.
2. Entitlement. This is the belief that a person has a right to something. This could be a result of arrogance, i.e., “I have a right to that because I am always right.” It could also be the result of a law, regulation, or historical precedence. A strong belief of entitlement can be extremely costly where the detriments exceed the benefits. It would be tough for the Type A person to walk away from something that is rightfully owned. This is a great opportunity to delegate.
3. Over-Protection. This is a serious problem and is an area where advice from another is beneficial. If it deals with over-protection of children, it may be necessary to consult with an expert. As can be seen in the next section on “Types of Fears,” childhood over-protection is the root cause of many fears. They should be resolved as soon as possible and not ignored.
Spotting over-protection takes a little effort, but it is not difficult. A few clues include:
Do you make more than 3 significant decisions a day for each child?
Do you shield them from harm from everyday realities, such as filtering more than a couple G-rated television programs?
Do you have too many safe zones, like not allowing your children to sleep over at any non-relative’s home?
Do you choose all of your children’s friends, rather than guiding them in choosing their own friends?
Do you search their rooms every day rather than talk, ask questions, and listen?
Do you not allow your children to fail, such as doing their homework rather than helping them? Not allowing your child to fail is a major problem and a mistake.
Do you accompany your children everywhere they go, barring them from exploring, getting dirty, receiving minor cuts and bruises, or discovering new playmates?
Parents must also learn how to let go to allow their children to grow and survive. Dr. Benjamin Spock’s early books on baby and childcare are trusted methods on raising children.
4. Abuse of Power and Control. Some define abuse as getting another to do something that they did not want to do. That definition could literally mean anything. The legal definition is the use of power or position of authority by employing a wrongful/illegal act. That is too limited.
The definition in this Website is an unreasonable use of power or control to achieve a purpose unrelated to the advancement of any positive trait.
The prime minister of England in the late 1700’s said that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” It was quoted in a political context, but it likely applies to all human endeavors.
Laws control most abuses. All organizations, professional and social, have adopted ethics to control abuses and promote fair play. Religious organizations, local ministers, and spiritual advisors often mediate in this area.
It is not difficult to spot abuses. Legal actions are the most public. But abuses also lead to internal disputes within businesses. When distrust between members of a business clan occurs, there is often a high turnover rate. This is prime hunting grounds for competitors, resulting in hiring key employees, scheduling meetings during high conflict periods, and observing the reactions among business clan members in company meetings or social gathering.
5. Workaholic. Most Type A people have this trait. Unfortunately, it often causes problems with their family life. Coping with a workaholic boss or spouse requires planning and scheduling. An effort must be made to put more quality in the activity, as opposed to the quantity. A few examples include:
Rather than attending a child’s entire soccer game, negotiate to attend a segment of the game. Communicate with the soccer coach so that the workaholic spouse can see their child actually play.
Praise for a workaholic partner is more rewarding than nagging.
Telephone and video conferencing allows more real-time interactions.
Be honest with what is bugging you. Talking and listening are extremely important.
Do the PAC method: Plan an activity, Advise the other of it, and Calendar it in on both personal and business calendars.
Learn how to negotiate. The A type respects the art of negotiation. They do it daily. If you want to go on a cruise, then ask the workaholic spouse to name the five best vacation destinations. Narrow it down to the one you like, and ask, “What do you like about ….”