Whether it’s you, a coworker, or a loved one, it can be challenging to deal with an angry, intense, rushed person, a so-called Type A personality.
I know because I have that predisposition but have earned how to manage it. Here's what I do and what I think someone who has to cope with a Type A might be wise to do.
What is a Type A?
First, let’s be sure we’re clear on the kind of person I’m talking about. It’s a physiological tendency to overreact to stress. For example, if ten people were seated in a room and suddenly, an unexpected buzzer sounded, I’d be the one who most jumped out of his seat. That means that when something goes wrong, I secrete more adrenaline than most, I go from 0 to 60 in one second. That puts me at risk of unnecessarily saying something angrily or too bluntly. Fortunately, I’m not physically aggressive, so I don’t hit people, but I’d guess that a powerful adrenal gland is at the root of much physical violence.
Ironically, I exacerbate my physiological predisposition to impulsivity by endlessly craving more stimulation. I don’t take that so far as to do anything dangerous but I will, for example, tend to keep at an argument longer than most people would. I always drive in the left lane and, if I’m two minutes behind schedule, rush to make it up. That doesn’t take a toll on anyone else but no doubt does on me---I’m scared to find out what my cortisol level is—it’s probably bad.
Type A behavior has its advantages. For example, I get a lot done. But I certainly feel embarrassed when I say something impulsively, am intense enough to make people want a break from me, or my rushing leads to a mistake.
Managing Being a Type A
I’ve chosen a life that minimizes unpleasant surprises so few events are likely to trigger anger. I work at home, am my own boss, and have comfortable routines, which I follow pretty faithfully. I have chosen a wife and friends who are calm and reasonable so they rarely trigger me—and I stay with them: I know my best friend for more than 50 years. I’ve been with my wife for 41.
I’m aware of my risk times. For example:
Dealing With a Type A
Understandably, most people avoid angry, rushed, intense types. But sometimes, you have to deal with one, at work or at home. Here are some thoughts on how to deal with a Type A like me:
Of course, I’m not recommending, for example, that you tolerate violations of human decency, for example, verbal, let alone physical, assault. But often the Type A person’s intensity is more annoying than damaging. That’s also true of less obvious personality characteristics such as passivity. Justice will have been done if you give the Type A the amount of tolerance you’d want in response to your failings.
We all deviate from the norm in some way. Especially in today’s tough times, maybe we should all be a little more tolerant of others’ and our own deviations.