Ahh, the S style. Sympathetic, kind, calm and steady. When I envision an S personality style, I immediately think of their gift: comfort. They are the ultimate nurturers, humanitarians, supporters and philanthropists. There is no question what Mother Theresa’s personality style was. Typically reserved and introverted, a high S style is the opposite of an I style when it comes to being in the limelight. They observe first before speaking, and like an old friend told me “think three times, speak once.” They may be quiet, but when they do speak, they are pretty darn witty!
Eager to support, high S styles are super reliable and sensitive to the needs of others. They have a knack for seeing from others’ perspective and are typically the first people you think of when you need a shoulder to cry on. They are excellent listeners, and are the peacemakers who want everyone to get along!
When their wonderful strengths become a weakness is when their fear is triggered: loss of security. When an S faces great change and/or unpredictability, what happens is a direct antithesis of what you know as a nurturing S. All of a sudden, labels like lazy, indifferent, apathetic and uncaring come out. They need to recharge by unplugging…and under pressure, that can be extreme. Envision the poor mama with a filthy house and kids, who is so overwhelmed she simply gave up trying. Or the teenager who holes up in his room and just sleeps the days away, barely coming out. You wonder how they can sleep so much, and it may be a sign of stress, not exhaustion. How about the overweight individual who can’t pinpoint their emotion, but simply feels better when they eat – another survival mechanism that takes them away from the emotions they may be feeling inside. Overeating, sleeping all the time, avoiding life (bills, emails, etc) are all symptoms of a high S under pressure.
So what then, do you do to get out of it? Where do Ss thrive? In their connection with others! An S doesn’t need a party; they need a friend to confide in and know they are safe. They don’t need an award and big recognition; they need love and affirmation from their close circle of friends and family. They need time to process and support for their feelings.
Real Life Example #1: My just two-year-old started to get the gimmies in the grocery store, like all normal kids. She wouldn’t quit protesting and started to squirm. In my sheer act of desperation for the mounting temper tantrum I felt erupting out of her, I squeezed her leg and told her “That is enough” in her ear. And, holy cow, you would have thought I slapped her across the face. Her incredulous look at me told me I was in for it. She screamed at the top of her lungs in the store “Mama! You pincheded me! You hurt my heart!” Thank you, thank you, little piece of humble pie. No mama has her act together all the time. And if I ever get too confident that my kids are just perfect, I simply need to go out in public to remember they are not a) push-button entertainment or b) quiet little cherubs all the time. Scratch that. Pretty much any time.
Ss do not like conflicts…until they can’t take it any more. And then….they may just explode. Be aware – what may not seem like a big deal may mount into one. Sometimes they will keep their emotions in check too much (especially the older they get) and end up exploding over something small, or harboring resentment and anger over something they just never confronted. Let go of grudges and be open and honest – it’s super important to really connect with others.
Real Life Example #2:
This is actually more an analysis from my coaching with personality styles. More than any other personality style, this is the style where I see a skewed graph. I’ll explain graphs in a later post, but for the sake of this example, when you look at a graph, you typically find 1-3 of the styles above the midline as your prominent styles, and 1-3 below the midline as not as much like you. The more drastic they are, the more true to yourself you tend to be. If they all hover around the midline, it typically means you are in transition of some sort, and the pressure shows up in a report that may not be fully accurate. (That being said, there is no “wrong” report, because they give us valuable insight as to where you in the process – if you want to find out more, check out my profile with coaching here)
So…what do I see with a high S in transition? All four styles – D, I, S & C – above the midline. Wha? Are they everything? Well….yes. High S styles have the hardest time with people-pleasing. Being all things to everyone is a way they can default to try and make everyone happy. They want to be there for everyone, so sometimes saying no and/or prioritizing is difficult – and I will be the first to tell you, this is not sustainable.
You cannot please everyone all the time. And you – YOU – are your first priority. If you truly want to help and serve others, you have to take care of yourself. And you have to draw some clear boundaries on that. You are worth it. I know all you high Ss have so many people that rely on you – because you people – you awesome people, are the comfort of the world.
So here goes one of my favorite quotes:
As a parent, if you have an S child like I do, being authoritarian is a quick way to crush their spirit. Tone it down. I’ve noticed that what may have taken a bigger consequence for my high I style bouncing-off-the-walls daughter, I simply can speak to my youngest in a direct voice and have just as strong of an affect in her listening to me (notice I said direct, not yelling).
When you see a child who is slacking on everything, before berating them, sit down and talk to them. You may find your high S is struggling with something, and their emotional response is to shut down. Maybe the issue isn’t about them cleaning up their room, and you have a moment to really connect and discover a deeper issue that has been brewing in them.
Thank you Ss, for all you do for the world. We are all powerful beyond measure, and you should never, ever underestimate the effect you have on the world. Not everyone screams for attention, and the Ss and Cs in the world can oftentimes be overshadowed. But know that every person in the limelight depends on the people behind the scenes to make things happen. Even if you or your child is introverted, quiet, or reserved, remember this in no way means you can’t be confident, powerful, incredible you. We do not need Ss to become high Ds – never ever assume kindness means weakness. We are all powerful beyond measure.