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Why getting an "A" isn't always the best: The ups and downs of a Type A personality

February 7, 2022 - 14 min read

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Types of personalities: What's it all about?

What is a Type A personality?

8 traits of the Type A personality

How can you deal with Type A personality?

How to change Type A personality behaviors

5 tips to live well with a Type A personality

If you’re ever bored, the internet can keep you occupied with near-endless personality quizzes.

You’ll find breezy Buzzfeed quizzes, as well as more detailed options like the Big Five Inventory or Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. The sheer volume shows that people never get tired of finding out their personality type. 

Our personality traits are what make us unique. We love to learn more about ourselves, and having a sense of our traits gives us a better understanding of what makes us tick

Maybe a few of your personality quizzes have told you that you have Type A personality (even if they named it something different). You might be secretly thrilled. Or a little embarrassed. People often joke about it, but what does it really mean? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

Get to know more about this personality type. By doing so, you’ll have a better understanding of yourself and potentially feel more comfortable with who you are. 

Types of personalities: What's it all about?

Cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman began their research on Type A personality traits in the 1950s. 

Typically, Type A personalities are discussed in contrast to the more low-key Type B personality type. In general, people with Type B personalities are much more laid back and relaxed. Type B personalities are still creative and driven, but they’re far less rushed with their work compared to Type A personalities. Both feel stressed and overwhelmed at times, but people with a Type B personality have an easier time managing their stress levels

While some personality traits may overlap, certain characteristics help draw the line between others. The main personality types are Type A, Type B, Type C, and Type D. 

Here are a few characteristics that define the other personality types besides Type A.

Type B personality:

  • You’re more laid back and relaxed
  • You have a lot of creative ideas
  • You’re driven, but not rushed to achieve your dreams
  • You have a good grasp of how to manage your stress levels

Type C personality:

Type D personality:

  • You struggle with mental health and wellness
  • You have trouble opening up to people
  • Your self-confidence is low
  • You tend to have a pessimistic attitude and criticize yourself a lot

Type D is a less common personality type that can be linked to mental health and wellness concerns. People with a Type D personality might have trouble opening up and feeling confident about themselves. Their characteristics include being nervous with social interactions, having pessimistic viewpoints, feeling the need to isolate themselves, and possessing heavy self-criticizing habits

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What is a Type A personality?

Now, let's dive into the Type A personality. Many people may think of Type A individuals as impatient, extroverted, workaholics, and competitive. Type A behavior patterns carry an intense sense of urgency to everything they do.  

But there's a lot more to study and know about the Type A personality.

Certain situations can have an impact on Type A personalities. Workplaces that force their employees to be competitive and work hard often cause higher levels of stress. High-stakes jobs that demand perfectionism from their employees can heighten Type A individuals. It can also influence others to adopt similar characteristics. 

Some individuals are more inclined to have Type A personality traits, such as being impatient, extremely organized, and highly driven. But one’s environment plays a significant role in how these people behave. The more stressful the environment is, the more stressed the individuals. 

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8 traits of the Type A personality

Like every other personality type, there are pros and cons to being Type A. 

Recognizing the qualities associated with this personality type can be very helpful. The pros can help your career and lifestyle, while a grasp of the cons could help you identify potential negative traits.

Here are pros and four cons to be aware of for Type A individuals:

Pros

  1. You’re motivated to achieve your goals no matter what challenges you face
  2. You’re quick to make decisions, but you're methodical and strategize well
  3. You’re unafraid to take a leadership role in projects or work
  4. You can multitask to get jobs done faster

Cons

  1. You feel the need to take on a lot of projects at once that can increase stress
  2. You react with hostility and irritation when someone questions your work
  3. You neglect your mental health to achieve your goals
  4. Your stress could lead to hypertension (also known as  high blood pressure), a condition that heightens the  risk of heart disease

A BetterUp coach can help you work with your strengths and understand how your traits and characteristics may negatively or positively impact your professional and personal life. Find out what it feels like to have a coach that personalizes your plan to make you feel comfortable and healthy with your personality.

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How can you deal with Type A personality?

Let's say you have a Type B personality and your best friend has a Type A personality. You may find you need a few strategies to keep your relationship happy and healthy.

Here are tips for how to deal with Type A individuals:

Have open lines of communication

Your Type-A friend can sometimes get a little dominating with their attitude. They like to speak their minds and get right to the point. Rather than avoid them, try to sit down and talk about dealing with what's going on. 

Be open and let them speak their minds. Sometimes the work they pile on themselves can overwhelm them, so it's essential to be supportive and listen if they have any problems.

Understand that negative personality traits are part of life

Everyone has their faults, including you. Don't forget that someone with a Type A personality has excellent qualities and traits to them as well. Negative behavior or traits aren't always purposeful. You're going to encounter people with all different types of personalities. 

Next time someone does something that makes you upset, talk to them about what's happening and why you feel the way you do.

Multiracial-Colleagues-Sitting-At-Table-In-Office-type-A-personality

How to change Type A personality behaviors

If you’re a Type A personality, know this: You can adjust the more harmful traits associated with this personality type. It's okay to acknowledge that you may tend to be impatient. That's you being your authentic self. But some behaviors can be off-putting to friends and colleagues. In that case, you may want to adjust them. 

Read these three tips and think about how you can implement them into your daily routine:

1. Make changes to your work life

Is this new job you've started making your stress levels go through the roof? Think about how you behave at work and your work habits. Are you turning into a workaholic? Making changes to your work will help balance out your personal life. This could lead you to practice more relaxing, slower-paced hobbies rather than letting your ambitions consume you.

2. Get a pet 

Having an animal that you're responsible for taking care of can remind you of the simple things in life. It can help lower your high blood pressure and give you something to smile about each day. Plus, some pets will help you socialize and exercise more.

3. Start journaling

If you have a lot of feelings, your journal is ready to hear them. You can write them all down at the end of the day, and it will help with processing. Your journal is also a place where you can hold yourself accountable.

Do you have a specific trait that you want to work on? Treat your journal as a record so that you can go back and be more aware of what makes you act that way. You can also write down any solutions or positive moments in your progress.

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5 tips to live well with a Type A personality

Every quality about you makes up your identity, and that's not something to forget. 

If you find that your personality traits are overwhelming you and you're looking for some tips on how to manage them, keep these five strategies in mind:

  1. Prioritize your well-being over pleasing others and taking on more work
  2. Talk with a trained therapist or see a doctor about any health problems
  3. Practice relaxation techniques that work best for you, not what other people find helpful
  4. Actively take breaks from your work
  5. Remind yourself that you're special and loved just the way you are

Our professional BetterUp coaches are ready to support you with whatever changes you want to make in your life. BetterUp coaches can help you embrace the positive aspects associated with a Type A personality while sharing practical strategies to reduce stress and other potentially harmful tendencies. Get started with us today.

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Published February 7, 2022

Shonna Waters, PhD

Vice President of Alliance Solutions

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