The Four Common Types of Stress


Dr Karl Albrecht, a management consultant based in California, is a pioneer in the development of stress-reduction training for business people. He defined four common types of stress in his book, "Stress and the Manager."

While everyone experiences different physical and emotional symptoms of stress, it's important to understand how you respond to each one. When you can recognize the type of stress you're experiencing, you can take steps to manage it more effectively.

The four common types of stress are:

1. Time Stress occurs when you worry about time, or the lack thereof. Or all the things that you have to do, and you fear that you'll fail to achieve something important. You worry about a deadline or rushing to avoid being late. It’s critical to manage this stress to work productively in an organization.

Learn good time management skills. This can include using To-Do Lists  for example. Check out our tools on Time Management and Eisenhower Urgent-Important Matrix. Ensure you're devoting enough time to important priorities.

Also, make sure that you're polite but assertive  about saying "no"  to tasks that you don't have the capacity to do.

2. Anticipatory Stress is focused on something in the future. It is often focused on a specific event, such as an upcoming presentation that you're going to give. Because it is future based, start by recognizing that the event you're dreading doesn't have to play out as you imagine.

Anticipatory stress can result from a lack of confidence. Often, addressing these personal fears directly will lower your stress. In this example, if you put in extra time to practice and prepare for tough questions, you'll likely feel more prepared for the presentation.

3. You experience Situational Stress when you're in a scary situation that you have no control over. This could be an emergency. Commonly, it's a situation that involves conflict, or a loss of status or acceptance. For instance, making a major mistake in front of your team or losing a customer.

To manage situational stress better, refer to The Stockdale Paradox to develop the middle ground between belief in your future while dealing with what you can control in your day-to-day.

Conflict is a major source of situational stress. Learn effective conflict resolution skills to be well-prepared to handle the stress of conflict when it arises.

4. You experience Encounter Stress when you worry about interacting with a certain person or group of people – you may not like them, or you might think that they're unpredictable. It also can occur if your role involves a lot of personal interactions with customers or clients, especially if those groups are in distress. Because encounter stress is focused entirely on people, you'll manage this type of stress better by working on your people skills.

A good place to start is to develop greater emotional intelligence: the ability to recognize the emotions, wants, and needs of yourself and of others. This is an important skill in interacting with others and in building good relationships.

Empathy is another valuable skill, because it allows you to see the situation from the other person's perspective. It gives you greater understanding and helps you to structure your communications so that you address the other person's feelings, wants, and needs.