Back Up Styles


Challenging situations may cause us to embrace harmful personality traits.

Have you ever noticed a pattern of recurring negative reactions to stressful situations? Maybe you have a tendency to “explode” when you’re pushed into a corner, or maybe you retreat into yourself to avoid conflict. This is an indication of your “backup” style, and it’s not always pretty.

Everyone has a backup style that aligns with their strongest trait. These backup styles can emerge when you are overloaded, afraid or tired of a situation. The best resolution is to recognize when you’re nearing a breaking point, while finding a solution to the problem. Often times others notice these behaviors before we do. Knowing how to handle people in their backup styles helps deescalate the situation.

Need For Control

If you like to take charge and drive results, you may see yourself turning into a “dictatorial steamroller” when you think you’re being taken advantage of. You shut down in your communication skills, and go into overdrive trying to control your environment. You may jump into situations without fully thinking them through. This can be intimidating to others, and you may seem both unapproachable and uninformed.

When you notice someone slipping into this behavior, calmly ask them to explain their thinking with you, or to walk you through the decision making process so you can better assist them. Not only does this give the person a chance to re-think their decisions, but it also assures them people are listening.

Need to be Liked

People that are high in extroversion tend to verbally attack others when they are feeling not liked or defeated. They slip into defensive mode, often saying things that worsen the situation. During confrontations, these individuals may bring up seemingly unrelated personal matters. Even if they don’t voice them directly, there’s a possibility these attacks are influenced by difficult situations both at work and home.

Pointing out they are being defensive will only escalate the situation. Instead, tell them you understand they are frustrated, ask what they’re trying to accomplish and how you can help. Letting them know their frustration is justified eases the fear of being disliked, allowing them to calm down.

Need to Process

Avoiding conflict can be a backup style for people who have patience as their highest trait. People with low extroversion may be even more strongly affected. They need time to process information prior to making a choice, and need time to bring up a subject if they know it will lead to an argument. Boundaries are something they value, and fear of crossing lines restrains them from voicing concerns.

To pull people out of this back up style, approach them directly and ask their thoughts on a subject. Give them permission to disagree with you. This lets them know you value their opinion, reassuring their disagreements won’t cross any boundaries.

Need for Perfection

The need to be right often comes with the need for perfection. People high in conformity consider themselves experts in their field and refuse to settle. If they find themselves in situations where they can’t be right, they may come across as cold or unengaged. For example, an expert discussing complex and detailed information may be asked for a simplified explanation. They may find it difficult to summarize, feeling too much important information will be left out.

Try thanking them for their expertise, and ask their opinion. Clearly voice any concerns you have and ask for advice to alleviate them. This allows them to be right and reaffirms their expertise on the subject at hand.

Even if you don’t notice your backup style kicking in right away, your employees may notice it from the start. Being aware of the style you fall into can help you recognize the approach. When you feel a back up style coming on, attempt to identify the trigger and fix it.

Backup Styles are just one of the many aspects of our personality that can make a big impact! Interested in learning more about behavior and the way it affects us in our everyday lives? At Know Your Talents we reveal the secrets to personality for ourselves and those around us, creating understanding about the way we interact. Leveraging this knowledge on behavior can skyrocket the productivity of your organization. It is a GAME CHANGER!

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