In the last Birkman Breakdowns, we dived into two components that dealt a lot in structure – Restlessness and Insistence. While there is more involved with structure than just those components, and more involved within those two components than just structure, we are going to change our topic for now and take a look now at frustration.

For the most part, stress caused from any individual Need component not being met can cause frustration as all stress can be frustrating. But we are not going to look at all components. Instead we will focus more deeply on three components that are most likely to cause that frustration to turn in to outward, visible anger (or blow-ups) or possibly cause anger in others. Anger is not always a bad thing. But we must learn to control it. Understanding it is the first step.

The three components we will examine are:  Assertiveness, Self-Consciousness, and Emotional Energy.

When it comes to our natural styles, sometimes, what sounds like anger to some people can actually sound normal to the one who is speaking. And most likely, that individual isn’t angry at all. Here is a unique style combination that often comes across as if you are picking a fight even when that is not the intention:

  • High Assertiveness/Low Self-Consciousness/Low Emotional Energy: If you have this particular combination, I am sorry. It may not seem fair, but you will have to be the one to work extra hard to ensure you don’t destroy the relationships around you. This behavior often comes out with a verbally strong and challenging tone, as if you are daring someone to prove you wrong. At the same time, it sounds un-empathetic, overly based on logic, and lacks the understanding of what others may have sensitivities towards.

Now, true, this is more common with someone who has extremes (very intense scores) in these three Usual Style scores (as a reminder, extremes are scores that are from a 1 – 10 on the low side and 90 – 99 on the high side). But even without extreme scores, there is still potential to rub others the wrong way. As the communication style is usually matter-of-fact, domineering, and without emotion.

Another way these style combinations translate is to say something that you mean as a joke. The problem is, no one gets it, and it only sounds mean, causing people to get upset.

Remember, in and of itself, each of these styles are not bad things. Even when all combined together, it is not that they are bad. But, they are not styles most people can handle. It can come across too aggressive for many, as if you are angry, and that’s important to understand. Fortunately, our natural styles are easy to modify and most likely, individuals with this combination have learned to modify a lot already.

Going through each High/Low combination of all three components isn’t as relevant for this topic. Here is just one other example to keep in mind:

  • Low Assertiveness/Low Self-Consciousness/Low Emotional Energy: This, of course, is similar to the example above, but without the aggressiveness. The domineering style has now been replaced with one of agreeableness. This presents as being impartial to the sensitivities of others and without empathy, but with no strong tone attached. Something unkind can be communicated with a tone of niceness. People will assume you are upset but hiding the actual anger.

Just because we say something with a degree of niceness and pleasantness, doesn’t mean we don’t rub others the wrong way. Without emotional expressiveness (Emotional Energy being low), it is hard for others to know if we are truly being kind. Without awareness of sensitivities to others (Self-Consciousness being low), it is easy to hurt feelings. Even with the aggressiveness being removed (Assertiveness being low), we have the potential to upset people.

However, a Low Assertiveness/High Self-Consciousness/High Emotional Energy has its own set of problems. When this style is communicated naturally, it is done so in such a sensitive and indirect way, that people will find it hard to take you seriously. They will instead believe you are hiding something and distrust what you say. So, even though there is no outward anger, there are still possible negatives involved with this combination.

At the end of the day, each combination can be shown in a bad light or a good one. And with each person we encounter, we can either come across in a good light or bad one. More often than not, it depends on the situation.

For the purposes of this topic, I am painting each style in a negative light to show how it can come across in a way that can lead others to assume we are upset or angry with them. For all styles, it is important to understand how it works for you and how others perceive it. It is doubtful you are walking around angry all the time. And it is not profitable for others to assume so.

We will continue our discussion on these three components and their relation to anger and frustration next month. Below are some questions to work through in the meantime.

Looking at your style in these three components, do you have one or more that can rub others the wrong way? How so?

What happens when you combine all three styles into a set of behaviors? What does that behavior look like to you? How does it appear to others (you may have to get feedback to answer this)?

Update: Click here for Part II