Stress contagion is real. When a widespread threat surfaces, stress spreads like a secondary infection. As individuals, we’re affected by the thoughts and feelings that people express, whether they’re reasonable or not. (Not to mention media sources that will do anything to hold our attention and feed us their message.)
Suddenly, we’re not only dealing with the main threat but also an array of artificially created stressors. It can be a multiway attack on our mental and emotional health, even when we’re otherwise okay.
But we don’t have to just sit there and take it.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of the rare people who seek greater awareness and ability through personality type theory. Knowledge is power, and understanding yourself and others gives you a special perspective – and unique opportunities.
The message we’re offering here is that you have wonderful qualities that can improve a difficult situation.
This doesn’t mean that you need to be a hero or achieve some grand goal. Merely stepping out of the chain of stress contagion is a great accomplishment. Knowing your personality traits helps you manage your attitude, which is a great start to helping yourself, your loved ones, and, ultimately, the world.
Of course, there are other ways you can make a difference as well. Specific actions depend on your circumstances, but a general approach that taps into your personality type will strengthen you. A crisis is an excellent time to recognize and rely on the traits that you (and those around you) possess.
Here, we’ll look at some of the broad strengths of the personality types in the context of crisis. We hope it helps you appreciate the best qualities in yourself and others and use them to make your situation better.
Not sure about your personality type or someone else’s? Our free, easy personality test can help you understand.
Let’s consider how each personality Role group shines in a crisis.
Diplomat personality types: Advocates (INFJ), Mediators (INFP), Protagonists (ENFJ), Campaigners (ENFP)
Diplomats tend to focus on the human aspects of a situation. When everyone else is worrying about practical matters (or themselves), a Diplomat may be the one to stop and ask how you are doing. The value of this kind of direct, basic care in a stressful situation cannot be overstated.
Technical and practical matters can be critical, but while those measures may seek to safeguard physical health, Diplomats can go a step further to also safeguard people’s emotional health. They can help maintain a certain dignity and quality of life, not just survival. And this goes beyond personal interactions – it also colors their vision of the future and what goals should be prioritized.
In a crisis, Diplomats are well-suited to sensing people’s emotional states. It might be a bit stereotypical to suggest that Feeling personality types assume a role of comforter, but the truth is, they’re often good at it, and it’s a desperately needed thing. A Diplomat’s caring attitude can be the glue that holds people together in a crisis.
This may require that Diplomats keep their own imaginations under control, however. Fears tend to falsely influence perceptions of reality, and Intuitive types like Diplomats can easily get mired in negative fantasies, triggered by the thinnest rationales or possibilities.
In a crisis, terrible things may happen, but they need not claim ownership of Diplomats’ thoughts. These personalities have the mental agility to recognize unproductive internal feedback cycles in themselves and others. Any thought pattern that sustains itself by excluding other factors, including external reality, can lead to harm.
For example, too much hope: self-referencing optimism taken too far can result in ignored risks, bad decisions, and calamity. Or, too little hope: someone could fall so deeply into doubt that they don’t put forth enough effort toward problems they have the power to overcome.
One way to fight this is to focus on the comforting aspects of broader probabilities more than the worrying aspects of mere possibilities. Diplomats can make a difference by pointing out the positive because, frankly, it’s quite healthy to hope for the best, even while keeping an eye on risks. The right amount of hope can keep people energized and defend against despair.
There will be plenty of negative messages floating around in a crisis, some of them containing a portion of truth. But that’s no reason to let go of hope or let anyone else do so. There is no better use of imagination than to believe in, insist on, and pursue a positive outcome, and there are no personality types more capable of spreading this message than Diplomats.
Analyst personality types: Architects (INTJ), Logicians (INTP), Commanders (ENTJ), Debaters (ENTP)
Analyst personality types are often portrayed as intellectual and detached, but these are merely lenses through which they express normal thoughts and feelings. In a crisis, they must deal with emotion as much as anyone. However, their unique approach to life affects their response, as well as their point of view.
The Thinking and Intuitive traits motivate Analysts to seek out information that helps them see a perspective and course of action that makes sense to them. In a way, they often moderate and address their emotional impulses, such as fear, with facts. Understanding what’s going on helps them compose their feelings, thoughts, and actions.
These personalities can be incredibly valuable in a crisis by objectively evaluating situations and spreading helpful information. When everyone else is panicking or leaping to conclusions, Analysts can do immense good by calmly and fairly upholding useful truths. These types excel at separating fiction from fact and have a certain comfort level with unpleasant things that must sometimes be confronted.
Analysts can not only help figure out a good way to improve a situation – they may even be able to help ensure that it goes smoothly. Their imaginations help them spot problems before they exist. They’re always doing mental math about probabilities, risks, and potential solutions. Such abilities applied toward the greater good can move mountains.
When sharing in group decisions and support, Analysts can help not only by contributing ideas and plans but also by stepping in to cooperatively accomplish them. This may take a little patience, because these personalities are often used to doing things in whatever way they think is best. But when they cut others some slack – and recognize their own limits – they become a critical part of the solution to any crisis.
Perhaps most importantly of all, Analysts can recognize that a crisis situation is a good time to be more aware of emotions than normal – theirs and others. Stress and worry can manifest in surprising ways, and it’s only rational to face such feelings rather than letting them fester and make things worse. Simply talking about what’s going on inside can bring great relief to people in crisis and bring them closer in ways that help them make progress.
Sentinel personality types: Logisticians (ISTJ), Defenders (ISFJ), Executives (ESTJ), Consuls (ESFJ)
One of the greatest virtues Sentinels possess is their ability to stay focused on immediate, tangible needs under stress. In a crisis, these personalities are often the first to consider practical ways to improve the situation, rather than be consumed with speculation. This attitude can help keep others grounded as well – a very important thing when uncertainty and risk can distract anyone.
Because Sentinels may express either the Thinking or Feeling traits more strongly, they may respond and act differently in a crisis. Some may show more empathy and concern for people directly, while others may pursue more detached, technical solutions. But what these types have in common is how they rely on proven wisdom and established methods to guide their actions.
Innovation is sometimes the key to making great strides, but when basic aspects of health and welfare are threatened, a reliable, step-by-step approach can be important. For one thing, it lessens the impact of mistakes; a daring leap in the wrong direction can be devastating when major matters are at stake. Sentinels favor steady progress, which helps reduce indecision – or poor decisions.
When planning for themselves, their families, or as part of a group or organization, Sentinels can add a valuable dose of judicious sensibility to the decision-making process – including knowing when to simply be patient. They see the difference between theoretical and proven ideas and can help others balance their imaginations and focus on matters at hand.
And when the time comes to act, Sentinels really show their true grit. Regardless of how socially energetic they are, these personality types possess a sense of dedication to those they care about. They work with determination once they feel they are on the right path, and this pays off in positive results, which in turn gives them a deep sense of satisfaction. It’s a beautifully productive cycle.
The style of Sentinels isn’t always flashy, but other personality types can look to them to set a stellar example of how to get things done. Talk is cheap in a crisis and can even increase fear and confusion. The purposeful actions of Sentinels stand apart as something solid that everyone can not only benefit from but also take comfort in.
Explorer personality types: Virtuosos (ISTP), Adventurers (ISFP), Entrepreneurs (ESTP), Entertainers (ESFP)
Even when a crisis is foreseen, the stress of dealing with major or rapid change can become a source of trauma. But thanks to their Prospecting trait, Explorers are blessed with an ability to handle change that surpasses most other types. They have the same emotional reactions as everyone, but their recovery time can be shorter.
This is more than just a personal advantage, though. Explorer personality types may find themselves on the leading edge of a crisis, riding change like a wave but keeping their head above water despite it all. This puts them in an excellent position to look out for others who may be drowning in confusion or fear.
By being flexible in their approach, Explorers can help themselves and others adapt more rapidly to stressful circumstances, which is far more critical than it sounds. In fact, quickly assessing and reacting to threats is the hallmark of excellent crisis management, whether on a societal scale or within a single family.
Yet Explorers aren’t as given to flights of fancy – or fearful fantasy – as their Intuitive cousins. Their minds are open, yes, but these Observant personalities tend to focus less on the unknown or unconventional, and more on how to utilize available resources to cleverly overcome what’s in front of them. This can be a big help when options and resources are limited.
Explorers’ superb capabilities go beyond thought, though. Even Introverted Explorers have a kind of in-the-moment willingness to engage tasks, goals, and ideas that usually lead to real-world progress. Rather than refine a plan to the smallest degree, these types can’t wait to put it into action, because only then do they feel a sense of reward.
So, while others may get mired in planning stages, worrying about consequences or considering theoretical approaches, Explorers tend to dive in and do it. Taking this approach on their own, they can keep ahead of a crisis or outmaneuver it. Executing a ready response as part of a group, they can help everyone in the same way.
Explorers can maximize their contribution to their community by carrying this spirit of action forward, even when they aren’t the source of a plan. When they take on a task or goal, whatever the limits, they’ll find their own way of getting it done, and everyone will benefit.
If it seems like this article is tinted with praise, be assured that it’s well-founded. In our years of assessing personality types and researching their strengths and weaknesses, we’ve come to have a profound admiration for people’s amazing and diverse qualities. We truly want you to understand yourself and just how wonderful you are.
There is no trait that cannot be leveraged to make things better when your world is falling apart. The fear we feel is a universal thing, and the risks we face, we face together. But the ways we will defeat those things can be as individual as we are.
There’s a strong need right now to draw upon our best qualities and master our worst ones. In a crisis, you may come to see yourself differently. Understanding your personality can help that view be appropriate and positive.
So, in these troubling times, we invite you to read about your personality type. You can also learn about the personality types of those close to you, to work together and support each other even better. Stuck at home? Explore our members’ community and many articles. There has never been a better time to understand and appreciate yourself, others, and what can be accomplished together.
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