Living outside your Comfort Zone – Behavioural Adjustment vs Stress

Behavioural Adjustment from The McQuaig Psychometric System from HolstGoing back to the advice of Lincoln, Twain and others, we can adjust all of our behaviours for a short period of time under pressure. However, if this time frame becomes extended, pressure can quickly turn to stress.

The critical difference between Pressure and Stress is that a person under pressure can perform beyond their normal level. Under Stress, a person’s performance becomes erratic, sometimes above expectations and sometimes failing to meet expectations. Ultimately, they will spend less and less time meeting expectations.

Behavioural adjustment

When a person is comfortably coping with pressure, we get a picture of Stretching on the Situational side of their profile. They may be showing more of their Dominance Trait and more Drive or Independence than would be normal for them.

Similarly in Specialist roles, we may see more Acceptance and Relaxed or Compliant behaviour, as they immerse themselves further in their task or project and take on more detail and direction.

What is stretching for a Generalist profile may be a pressure or stress indicator for a Specialist. Similarly, way stretching for a Specialist, may be a problem for a Generalist. In either case, stretching as a long term activity is ultimately draining and inevitably leads to a collapse in performance.

Holding back

In more problematic situations, holding back has more immediate consequences. Here the individual is operating outside of their normal range. While the success associated with stretching supports a longer presentation of positive behaviours, holding back has none of the upside. People who are holding back are typically in receipt of or expecting negative feedback on their performance.

Holding back is often associated with a skill or knowledge deficit. That is, the simple inability to actually do the job to expected performance levels. It may also be due to a conflict with the boss or colleagues on a more personal level rather than performance. Sometimes, it is simply down to a bad fit between the behavioural requirements of the job and the individual’s own temperament. A Specialist promoted to a Generalist role being a fairly common example.

Next time, Learned Behaviours.

Cormac McGrane from Holst
About the Author:
Cormac McGrane is the principal of THG Ireland and partner of Holst (distributors of The McQuaig Psychometric System). To find out more about the McQuaig Psychometric System visit or call 0203 111 9292 .


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