Are Type A tendencies all bad? If you have ever been accused of having a Type A personality you may cringe at the memory. However, there is good news. Fresh research shows there are a few traits you may want to adopt, even if you are not a classic Type A, if you hope to be hyper-productive.
Being called a Type A personality is usually not a compliment. After all, the term was coined in the 1950s by two cardiologists, Drs. Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman, who were pooling the traits shared by their cardiac patients, inspired by the nervous energy displayed in their waiting rooms. (They wore out the seats in the same impatient way.) These doctors noticed this and other similarities and together forged a breakthrough hypothesis for leading indicators of the disease.
However, there’s a new interpretation on the scene. The simplistic link between Type A behaviors and cardiac arrest has been shaken and a more nuanced picture has emerged. It’s simply the difference between causation and correlation – just because people who have a disease tend to drive cars, for example, doesn’t mean that driving a car causes the disease.
There is actually a kind of Type A Behavior that is positive, while many others remain negative. Based on my review of the latest research literature, I have broken down and re-grouped these behaviors into three typical personalities so they can be more clearly understood, separated and managed.
Type A Emotives
These are anxious, impatient people who display a certain hostility when they don’t get their way in life. They often experience high stress which affects the lives others: the kind of negativity which leads to the cardiac issues Friedman and Rosenman were looking for.
Many have ulcers, chew their food too fast and spend a lot of time shouting angrily in order to “motivate” others. They are easy to recognize (and avoid) but don’t see any problem with their way of doing business. Of course, they often pay the price.
Type A Competitives
These obnoxious types are often bullies who induce stress in other people. Winning is most important to them– oftentimes, no matter what. They believe that “losers” are to be avoided. They love to keep score in public so that others can know how well they are doing.
These types rise quickly in companies, but often lose out when they continue to compete with their own subordinates even after they have “arrived.” The teamwork that’s so critical to success eludes them, which is why they often indulge in triathlons, marathons and other extreme, individual sports. Even when there is no competition, they’ll create one.
Type A Productives
These are time-conscious individuals who tend to be highly organized. They drive themselves hard, often ignoring their discomfort in order to produce results. Over-commitment is a reality as they believe in their power to adapt… with their high energy, they usually do so effectively. They are improvement-minded and are always looking for ways to get better using the latest technology and ideas — whatever may help them finish quickly… assignments, long articles and other people’s sentences.
While the definitions of these three types were originally bundled into a single whole, it’s better for us to understand them separately. Doing so allows us to accept and nurture our Type A Productive side while managing and mitigating our tendency to engage in the other two traits.
The fact is, Type A’s teach themselves to be as productive as they develop, starting in their teens when they begin seeing their efficiency as a tool to accomplish results. It’s the reason they love self-improvement opportunities: these are all the better for expanding their capacity to deliver in all areas of life.
Of the three styles, Type A Productives run the highest risk of being misunderstood. The reason? They usually have at least a small slice of the two negative types as well, causing other to dismiss their attempts to be more productive. Unfortunately, the baby (high productivity) is often thrown out with the bathwater (stressful competitiveness).
If you have even a few Type A tendencies you don’t need lose the support and admiration of others. Keep on pushing for hero-level productivity, even as you amp up your interpersonal skills. Take the accusation of being a Type A personality for what it can be… a compliment.
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