Understand these 4 work styles to reduce stress

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By usawebstories

Work can be challenging, especially when we factor in the complications of working with other humans. To help us build an understanding of our work styles and that of others, Quartz at Work turned to Neha Sangwan, M.D., with an excerpt from her new book Powered By Me: From Burned Out to Fully Charged at Work and in Life.

Whether it’s the coworker who is always in a panic or the family member who can’t stop asking you to share their latest social media post, it’s easy to be irritated by people who don’t think like you do. And it can be one of your biggest stressors. There will likely be people who see a situation in the same way you do—and plenty who have a different approach. But here’s the thing: everyone has reasons for thinking and behaving the way that they do. Everyone has a unique inner GPS and experience that has brought them to this point. The kicker is: every one of them is valid.

Instead of letting your differences cause more stress, considering how someone else’s approach can actually help you will alleviate stress and foster better relationships. Understanding work styles is a simple way to better understand and value yourself and those around you at work and home—for your own sake.

The 4 work styles

There are four main work styles: doers, thinkers, seers, and feelers. Most people exhibit some combination of these four styles. The truth is that we each have varying levels of proficiency with each, but one is usually our strongest cornerstone—the one we naturally default to under stress.

1. Doers

The currency of doers is accomplishment, tasks, and to-dos. It’s no surprise that their favorite activity is getting things ta-done! They tend to be busy bees. A doer’s pace is fast, and this constant activity gives them a boost of adrenaline and a sense of control, which keeps them far away from having to feel much of anything. They move at a quicker pace, driven by deadlines. Doers are often physically oriented, meaning they enjoy moving their bodies and engaging in hands-on work.

If doers had a motto, it would be “Just do it!”

If a doer were a vehicle, they would be a Hummer, a bulldozer, or a tank, which would best describe their strong commitment to forward momentum. They love being the boss. And you know what? If they’re not the boss, they prefer that the boss lives at least 3,000 miles away. Control and efficiency are the doers’ top priorities.

On the flip side, what do you think is the doer’s greatest fear? Well, vulnerability, of course. They dislike unpredictability and discomfort and the mess that comes with feeling challenging emotions.

The gift of the doer is that they are focused, get a lot done in a short amount of time, are able to meet tight deadlines, and come in on or under budget.

2. Thinkers

The currency of the thinker is details, data, and knowledge. They’re analytical. They like numbers. They love solving complex problems. Their pace is slower to give them time to think. They are great doing research, but because they are so thorough, they can also miss deadlines.

If thinkers had a motto, it would be: “Do it once, and do it right!”

If they were a car, they’d be a Prius, of course, Because they would have thought through the best price, fuel efficiency, the environmental impact, the hybrid carpool lane advantage, and the practicality and ease of parking in compact spots. Thinkers are thoughtful and consider all factors in making a decision—they prefer no surprises.

The thinker’s biggest fear is looking foolish. They hate making mistakes. It’s very important for a thinker to get it right. This work style can easily lend itself to perfectionism.

The gift of the thinker is their ability to solve complex problems in a linear, detailed, well-thought-out fashion.

3. Seers

The currency of seers is ideas, innovation, and novelty. They like to brainstorm and talk through all possibilities. They love exploring, being nonlinear, and going in any direction their creativity takes them. A seer’s pace is often fast, switching from one idea to the next.

The motto of seers is: “If you can dream it, you can be it!” (Walt Disney). It’s all about reaching for the stars.

If seers were a car, they would be a red convertible Cyber Truck (these trucks only come in silver and black) because red is a custom paint job!

What do you think seers’ greatest fear is? Because they love possibility and freedom, their greatest fear is feeling trapped. Keeping their commitments is a challenge for them because they are easily distracted and suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out). The gift of seers is that they can see the future. Their innovation will keep them on the cutting edge so as to be different from the crowd.

4. Feelers

The currency of feelers is relationships. They love people. They’re happy to move at a slower pace—whatever it takes to build strong and meaningful connections. Empathy comes naturally. Feelers seek harmony and are in tune with other people’s moods and emotions.

The feeler’s motto would be an African proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”

If feelers were a car, which one would they be? A minivan of course! It doesn’t matter how everyone gets there, as long as we get to journey together.

What do you suppose a feeler’s greatest fear is? Rejection. To ensure their approval from others, they can easily become people-pleasers. They tend to give so much that they are depleted themselves. The gift of the feeler is that they are the glue—of a team, a family, or a community. They ensure that everybody is participating and moves forward as one cohesive group.

How the work styles collide

No one is consistent all the time. Some people behave one way in a work situation and another in their personal lives. And most aren’t even aware of how various behavioral styles clash in everyday scenarios like lunch or dinner conversations, colleague exchanges, and yes, every team meeting. For example, when a seer is happily brainstorming ideas (“We could do this or this . . .”), here’s what else is happening:

  • The seers’ world of possibilities serves to irritate the doers who are thinking, “Which of these ideas are we actually committed to doing, and when can we get started? You’re all talk and no action. Meetings like this are a waste of time.”
  • The thinkers are frantically writing down potential complications that could arise from each of these “crazy” ideas, piping up with reasons why each idea isn’t even humanly possible. They want to know, “How would we turn those ideas into reality? What about supply chain issues? Have you even given a thought to the mechanism of accomplishing this moonshot idea?”
  • Meanwhile, the feelers are tuned in to the energy of the group, checking in to make sure everyone feels heard and valued. “Anita isn’t participating anymore. I bet she’s upset because Bob interrupted her earlier.”
  • All the while, the seers, preferring to keep all options open, continue to lob new ideas so that they don’t get trapped into committing to a single approach.

When we don’t appreciate diverse perspectives, it can work against us, creating stress for everyone involved. But when we value approaches different from our own, we can harness the gifts and vulnerabilities of each of us to get more done and in the best way possible. This may feel like it would take a lot of extra time or energy, but in truth, you’re most likely already expending energy fighting against, complaining about, or resisting collaboration. Why not redirect that energy in a way that benefits you?

Leveraging others

If you can see the value in others’ work styles rather than draining your precious energy by focusing on how they are wrong or different from your own, you have the possibility to create an even better outcome.

What ways can you adjust how you interact with others to leverage their behavioral styles? Here are a few ideas:

  • When working with a doer, speak in headlines and bullet points, rather than in details. Trust that they will ask you if they need more information.
  • If you’re interacting with a thinker, give them context, research, details, sources, and possibly even the latest article on a subject to give them the most information possible.
  • If you’re interacting with a seer, it’s important to let them know where you need their creative input and how what you’re sharing is different, novel, or unique from the mainstream.
  • If you’re interacting with a feeler, speak to them about how whatever you’re suggesting will strengthen relationships, improve team dynamics, and create better connections.

When you illuminate other people’s innate gifts and skill sets, you’ll know how to make slight adjustments in your own communication in order to partner effectively with other work styles. And by all means, please articulate to others how you work best. This will reduce stress, improve collaboration, and create a net gain of mental, emotional, and social energy for everyone.

Neha Sangwan, MD is author of the new book Powered By Me: From Burned Out to Fully Charged at Work and in Life. She is the CEO and founder of Intuitive Intelligence, is an internal medicine physician, international speaker and corporate communication expert.

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