Crisis – response

A little earlier I was writing about humans in a state of crisis – the way this brings-out a certain togetherness, bonding those who might otherwise be stuck apart.

Another aspect of crisis is the effect it can have on the individual, beyond the coming-together. You see, crisis, immediate pressure or threat can affect our decision-making.

Most, given ample time and space can come to a reasoned, rational decision when faced with a challenge. What happens when there is a timer counting-down; think back to Countdown and the Conundrum, or, perhaps, the last seconds of a football or rugby match, the moments before the bell rings to terminate the exam.

We behave differently.

Within the realms of the Myers-Briggs psychological framework, where people are allocated one of 16 different personality types, based upon their source of energy (introvert vs extravert), speed of thinking (fast or slow), values system (fact or feeling) and completion (last-minute or forward planner), a list is populated.

I’m not going to tell you what I am, although some can perhaps guess.

You can look on the internet for all different sites explaining the various personalities and how they interact. You can assess your own personality type. It can be quite fun, and some folk have run with the idea to develop Myers-Briggs Star Wars characters and the like.

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None of this specifically relates to crisis, as the theory states that we are who we are when all things are equal. When the pressure isn’t on, when we are safe, relaxed, without deadline or threat.

This is when most of us are at our best.

Flip this, induce a state of crisis with tension, deadlines, demanding managers and customers and personality can change. Some of us can behave in very different ways under pressure.

The theory describes this as being ‘in the grip’ – and, as with all these things, there are books written on the subject.

Despite being an approved Myers-Briggs assessor, I have never fully understood this aspect of the theory as it becomes very complicated with different personality aspects and types interacting with others to produce odd combinations.

I have met some master practitioners and it is eerie how accurate they can be when analysing behaviour.

Here is an example;

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Take Wonder Woman – her personality type (based on DC Comic Analysis) is supposedly ENFJ – she is Extravert, gets her energy from being around other people, works iNtuitively – she doesn’t always need all the information to act, and, her acts are based on Feeling; the effect of her actions and the actions on the feelings of others matter to her and, Judging – she gets things done.

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This is a description from the DC Personality site:

‘Wonder Woman is outgoing and always supportive. She is caring, friendly and intensely loyal. She is nearly the perfect character with a strong will and a warm heart. Wonder Woman never gives up and has a larger than life presence. She is capable of being what everyone around her truly needs.’

(Sheesh; I have just described my mum!)

All this is very interesting, it is what happens when the pressure is on, when the clock is ticking, and her values are put to the test, when perhaps a trusted ally cheats her or her intuitive quick thinking fails.

This is the grip.

Here is the picture, which is essentially a breakdown of everyday function;

Wonder Woman becomes a person who is very critical and untrusting of others and themselves, their logic fails to the point that what was previously obvious now must be analysed to the nth degree; they become indecisive, deferring action rather than taking the decisive actions with which they are familiar.

She becomes… Spock.

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Here is a quote from Naomi L. Quenk’s book*

“I am like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” said an ENFJ, describing his reaction to extreme stress. “My humour becomes inappropriate, meant to shock people. I’ve even been known to throw things while in this frame of mind.” An ESFJ said he becomes “angry, out of control, critical, responding too quickly to others with impatience, cutting a person off when they speak.” “I’m critical rather than seeking harmony, self-protective rather than ‘giving,’” said an ENFJ.

It is interesting, the effects of stress upon people.

I am sure we have all witnessed this; the usually placid fun-loving person becomes harsh and rigid, the quiet soul starts shouting and bawling, or worse, the loud brash individual goes silent.

Pressure and specifically crises can have major effects on how we see the world and behave.

This likely suggests that for all crises can bring us together, they can also tear us apart, forcing people into difficult situations where they can make errors of judgment, where they can struggle to find peace or calm.

I guess the point of this is to recommend that crisis thinking, action or behaviour is probably not good for long-term prosperity no matter how it connects us.

Sometimes you just have to be calm.

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* Was That Really Me?: How Everyday Stress Brings Out Our Hidden Personality (9780891061700): Naomi L. Quenk: Books

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