April 15, 2017

Are You a Five-Alarmer?

 |  By: Mike Opperman

Operating a dairy farm, let alone a a multi-million dollar business, can be stressful. When dealing with cows and people, anything can happen at any time, causing stressful situations on a potentially regular basis. How you handle these stressful situations goes a long way to the success of your business and your role as owner.

What you think, say or do in stressful situations has a significant impact on your well-being. One study on more than 5,000 people, conducted by Michelle Gielan, a CBS news anchor and psychology researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, found three basic responses to stress.

  • Venter: About 27% of the participants fall into this category. “Venters are highly expressive and therefore very open about stressful events in their lives,” Gielan says in an article in Harvard Business Review. She says that venters don’t fare well in two significant areas: being able to maintain a cool head under pressure and actively problem solve to devise a plan. “They vent without providing or creating a positive action to respond to the stress.”
  • Five Alarmers: The study revealed about 26% of the audience in this category. As the name suggests, these people are very good at communicating that they are stressed, but they take actions to solve the problem. Gielan says this may be good, but five alarmers “don’t differentiate between low stress and high stresses. They respond to every stress as if it is a five-alarm fire.” She says this causes significant emotional stress.
  • Calm responders: The remainder fall into this category, or those who rationally and calmly respond to challenges. As expected, people in this category enjoy the highest levels of happiness and success.

Gielan says that anyone in any of these categories can change over time. If you want to train your brain to be calmer the next time a stressful event arises, Geilan suggests making a list of five stressful events from your past that you were successful at solving. When your heart starts to race at the next stressful event, look at the list to remind yourself of those accomplishments.