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Managing "Type A" Personalities

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Business Insights for Women
PNC INSIGHTS Magazine Spring/Summer 2014 Issue
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Exercising leadership - or encouraging your Type A staff members to exercise leadership - may reduce your stress.

A new study published in the January 2010 issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine suggests that Type A personalities can control stress by focusing on their natural proclivity for leadership, one of the four characteristics common to Type As. The other Type A personality traits are aggression, "hard-driving" attitudes and behaviors, and eagerness or energy.

According to the study, these latter three characteristics correlated to high job stress and a greater instance of heart disease. Specifically, they were linked to "effort-reward imbalance," or a perceived lack of appreciation for an individual's hard work. However, lower levels of stress were observed among hard workers who scored high in leadership traits. The study's authors attribute this to better rewards for their efforts and greater control over their jobs.

These findings bear out the prevailing wisdom that stress is caused less by hard work than by lack of control over one's environment. Experts at the Mayo Clinic offer these suggestions to help Type As regain a sense of control and keep stress in check:

Avoid potentially stressful situations by planning ahead, learning to say no and prioritizing tasks to make time more productive.

Alter your situation for the better by communicating openly with your co-workers, addressing conflicts before they worsen, and managing your time effectively.

Accept things you can't change, but talk them out with friends and loved ones; choose forgiveness over anger; and treat your mistakes as learning opportunities.

Adapt your standards so your approach to situations is more realistic and based on a more positive - and broader - perspective.

With stress under control, Type-As can get back to the business at hand: mastering the universe.