Type "A" Behaviors

Type "A" Behaviors

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D

Some people just won't exercise. They can agree to routinely do a physical activity like mowing the lawn, washing the car or cleaning the garage, but don't ask them to exercise. That just won't do! My guess is that such people consciously or subconsciously feel they must be productive at all times.

Exercise may not feel like a productive activity to them. If you insist, they might argue along the lines that if the objective is to be physically active, then why not engage in a physical activity, which offers similar benefits. The fact is that they find exercise simply "boring," and you know why.

Some productivity-oriented people tend to eat fast. I guess the underlying reason for gulping down their food, at least for this particular group, is that eating is again not a productivity activity. Perhaps, they believe eating is a necessity, but it certainly doesn't deserve the time that slowly chewing their food might take. There are other activities competing for their time. As a result, some eat while driving and that way eating doesn't demand any extra time.

Reluctance to spend time on exercise or eating may stem from a sense of "time urgency" or time pressure that type "A" people constantly experience.

Type "A" behaviors include such traits as extreme ambition and competitiveness, impatience, time pressure and a high degree of propensity to anger and hostility. Drs. Meyer Friedman and R.H. Rosenman, pioneer researchers in this field, define a type "A" individual as a "person who is aggressively involved in a chronic, incessant struggle to achieve more and more in less and less time, and if required to do so, against the opposing efforts of other things or other persons."

The above definition highlights two traits of type A, the sense of time urgency and the need to prevail and control.

The other personality type, known as type B, denotes an individual who is more "relaxed" in his or her approach to life, somewhat opposite of type A.

One subgroup of type A people (the ones who are high on anger, hostility and cynicism) are more susceptible to heart disease than are type "B" people.

Some type A individuals are fastidious. Subordinates often don't know how to please them. They are very exacting regarding how a job should be performed.

This drive for exactness can create significant marital tension. For example, some type "A" spouses are particular about how the toilet roll should hang on its holder. If Mr. A's preference were to have the open end of the roll on top, he would get extremely upset if the spouse installed a new roll with the open end down.

Type "A' individuals want it exactly the "right way." For this reason, they have a hard time delegating tasks to others. Subordinates may view them as "control freaks" for that very reason.

Here is another type A scenario: The phone rings and the person on the other end is someone you know well. You may not hear the expected, "Hello, how are you. May I talk to your husband?" The caller might get right to the point, "Cathy, John! Let me talk to Jim." Jim is type A. When he has something on his mind, he can't waste time on exchanging social pleasantries. This comes right out of the time urgency factor and not because of shyness of lack of social skills.

Can you change your type "A" personality? Well, you surely can change type A behaviors.

Change your attitude towards time. Regard time as your friend rather than your enemy. Whenever you notice your foot is pushing the "gas pedal" too hard, release it.

Here is an improvised serenity prayer for you: Exercise patience when others make trivial mistakes and do other "stupid" things. Show courage to face and forgive unavoidable consequences, brought on you by your own mistakes or someone else's. And, employ wisdom to know the difference.

Let compassion, empathy and forgiveness replace anger and hostility.

Express affection and pay compliments generously to family members, friends, subordinates and superiors. Likewise, receive graciously, acknowledge and pause when others compliment and express their affection towards you.

Make a point to hug and kiss your family. Sometimes, talk to them in a funny tone. "Baby talk" will be good, too. It's all right to be "silly" just to make others laugh.

Sometime speak slowly on purpose. Often reflect on your own thoughts, spoken words and actions. Listen closely to others without interrupting or anticipating what they are about to say. Criticizing or disagreeing in your head with what others say impairs the listening ability.

Sometimes, just sit there and do nothing for fifteen minutes. In those fifteen minutes, neither think about your "to do list" nor about all the things you could have possibly done during that time.

On the wall of the Library of Congress, it says, "If you can't stand being alone, maybe you bore other people too."

Return to Self Help 

Copyright 2003, Mind Publications 
Posted December 2003


Click for Dr. Sharma's credentials
Dr. Vijai Sharma
Your Life Coach
By Telephone

Feedback- Let us know how we are doing

Terms and Conditions

Web site designed and maintained by Chanda Taylor