A. Extrinsic Characteristics (fear related)
In this website, the characteristics of each personality trait are grouped as extrinsic or intrinsic. Extrinsic characteristics are associated with matters that are likely to produce stress (fear related). Intrinsic characteristics are more associated with things that reduce stress (joy related). However, this is not necessarily an either/or situation. Each trait can work independently, concurrently, or simultaneously.
1. Loyalty. This means a strong feeling of devotion, support, or allegiance. Historical records classify loyalty as the pinnacle of all truths. Greeks felt that this trait was so powerful and stressful that only the gods could handle it.
The loyalty trait is a part of all personality types. However, for Type-A, it is the dominate trait. Many believe that loyalty is one-directional – devotion to the Type-A, rather than from the Type-A. But this is a misconception. They use loyalty to fiercely protect and benefit those in their clan.
There is a famous professional golfer who perfectly 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, and those who receive it invariably return it. Find out his name and learn more about this legend here.
2. Protection. All personality types have protection as one of their traits. The Type A stands guard from outside forces, i.e., events and people from outside the family or clan. They will act swiftly to protect the clan against these forces. Against inside forces, they may feel uncertain what to do, particularly from emotional threats.
With respect to outside threats, the Type A person will not blame fellow clan members for the problems. Therefore, if the person is depressed, the spouse or fellow clan members should not interpret the depression as their fault. Mounting a defense before knowing the facts will likely end up compounding the problem. Avoiding unnecessary stress is as simple as asking, “Is there something bothering you?”
Failures caused by inside forces (actions or inactions by clan members) are interpreted differently. If a clan member screwed up then that person should prepare to mount a strong, cogent defense. The strongest defense is finding a hidden benefit. Mounting no defense implies weakness, which is often worse than the original mistake. Type A people know 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 by every person.
A 21-year-old daughter takes off to work in the oil fields with her boy-friend who had a reputation of spending money. After a year, she returned home heavily in debt.
Can you spot any 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.
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 – anything which 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 girl-friend if he could take their daughter to the movies than it took facing home run power hitters during the World Series. The acts of stepping into an elevator or a teenager facing the parents of a girl-friend are not physically dangerous. However, they produce fear and are therefore perceived as dangerous in the minds of those individuals.
Of all the personality types, the Type A’s excel in this trait. Courage suppresses fear of the consequences.
This is one of the reasons why bluffing is seldom effective against A-types. If anything, the Type A person will use the other person’s bluff to their advantage by waiting to strike when the other hesitates.
It is a well-known strategy in poker that a gambler does not bluff the player in control, i.e., the one holding the most money. You practice the “bluff” on players who are looking for a reason 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 the greatest pleasure for a Type A personality. 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 open option, but a non-decision lies in perpetual limbo. No social or economic advancement or scientific breakthrough has occurred with a non-decision.
In the mind of an A-type there are no bad decisions, only bad results. It would be unnecessary stress to argue about a bad decision. There are always benefits from any decision. One should look for these hidden benefits. 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?
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 do it? Failure to delegate is the number one cause for stress in not getting things done.
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 will seek out the center stage position. This is not to show that they are the most popular, but 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, they often “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.
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 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 they do 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 these efforts are often interpreted by the children as actions to control them. This has the exact opposite effect of happiness and causes stress on both parties. If you want your children to be happy, talk to them, listen to them, and then teach them what they can do.
If you are not happy, then blaming it on someone else (and you can always find reasons) will only lead to more stress. It is only when you understand that your happiness is your own responsibility that you can be truly happy. 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 quizzes that can help with these questions and answers.
Responsibility is a source of great stress. But when properly managed, it is also a source of great calm.