Understanding Stress through the Emergenetics® Attributes

Understanding Stress through the Emergenetics® Attributes

May 11, 2021

During times of stress and uncertainty, it’s natural to turn toward our innate tendencies for working and interacting. Often, we may retreat into these preferences without necessarily having an awareness of our actions or their potential impact on others.

Understanding Stress through the Emergenetics® Attributes
Understanding Stress through the Emergenetics® Attributes

Recognizing how your stress may reveal itself can help you identify when it’s time to pause your work, leave your desk (remote or in-office) for a short break or take a moment to evaluate how you are interacting with your colleagues.

As we adjust to new realities of work given the current climate of COVID-19, below are a few insights into how stress shows up in each of the Emergenetics® Attributes as well as tips to help you reframe your mindset when engaging or connecting with others.

How Stress Can Appear through the Attributes


Under stress, this Attribute may be more focused on the “why” behind actions and decisions. The Analytical Attribute will likely ask for greater evidence and expertise as they search to for ways to support efficiency and follow best practices. This focus may be misperceived as skeptical.

Communication tips:

  • Practice listening reflectively
  • Remain open to other perspectives


The Structural Attribute will likely want details and instructions to accompany any directives. Under stress, this Attribute may be more inclined to ask follow-up questions and seek clear guidelines and rules before moving forward. Such a thorough approach may be misperceived as unimaginative.

Communication tips:

  • Practice being curious about new ideas
  • Be mindful about what details are essential to take action


Under stress, this Attribute may focus most of their attention on how the situation is impacting others. The Social Attribute often takes a compassionate and socially conscious approach, which can be misperceived as emotional and sensitive.

Communication tips:

  • Practice responding objectively
  • Remember that actions taken are rarely, if ever, personal


The Conceptual Attribute enjoys taking a visionary approach and is typically interested in the big picture and the future. Under stress, this Attribute may want to experiment more than usual and focus on long-term ideas, which can be misperceived as inattentive or unstructured.

Communication tips:

  • Practice balancing short- and long-term needs
  • Create a frame for your out-of-the-box ideas


Those in the first-third of Expressiveness may be reserved and keep their thoughts to themselves as they tend to process internally. This portion of the Expressiveness spectrum will likely need time to compose their thoughts, which may be misperceived as being disengaged.

Communication tips:

  • Prepare your thoughts beforehand
  • Use non-verbal gestures to convey understanding

Those in the third-third of Expressiveness may want to talk through a situation with others. This Attribute likes to process externally in order to arrive at a conclusion, which can be misperceived as dismissive if individuals talk over one another.

Communication tips:

  • Practice pausing before speaking
  • Allow for silence


Those in the first-third of Assertiveness may be amiable and compliant. Under stress, this Attribute may be even more inclined to go along with the majority to keep the peace, which can be misperceived as indifference.

Communication tips:

  • Ask questions to further decision-making
  • Practice promoting your opinion

Those in the third-third of Assertiveness are often direct when expressing their thoughts as this Attribute enjoys debate and likes to move ideas forward quickly. This style may be misperceived as demanding, particularly under pressure.

Communication tips:

  • Listen actively to others’ opinions
  • Practice working toward consensus


Those in the first-third of Flexibility get energy from executing on a plan once a decision has been made. Under stress, this Attribute may be even more inclined to take a firm stance on staying the course, which can be misperceived as stubborn.

Communication tips:

  • Remain curious about different points of view
  • Practice considering multiple options

Those in the third-third of Flexibility like to entertain multiple options throughout the process. This Attribute enjoys working on various tasks, frequently switching gears and changing directions, which can be misperceived as indecisive.

Communication tips:

  • Practice committing to one decision
  • Narrow your focus by asking where there is room for change

Stress will show up throughout our lives, and particularly in the face of unfamiliar situations like COVID-19. As you go through your day and reflect on your interactions, I encourage you to consider where your preferences lie and how they may impact your work and your interactions. I also invite you to use a tool like the Emergenetics Profile to help you more easily recognize and understand your patterns of thinking and behaving.

As a final thought, I’d like to leave you with some recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As you seek to understand your stress and make improvements in the way you work, consider incorporating these coping tips into your daily practices:

  • Take breaks from the media. If you feel your anxiety rising, put down your phone and try being present in the moment.
  • Take care of your body. This may include a balanced diet, exercise, a good night’s sleep and meditation.
  • Make time to unwind. Find ways to continue doing the activities you have always loved.
  • Connect with others. Whether over the phone, email or video chat, be sure to share your feelings with others.

By taking time for yourself, you should be able to more easily identify stress when you feel it and reframe your mindset as you work with others to help support both your needs and theirs.

Source: Emergenetics International

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