The Poise Profile reports on perceived sources of pressure and tension, the extent to which people believe they tolerate these, and their response when they experience stress.

Four factors explore activities as causes of pressure and tension, the way they handle those, the environment and the impact of others.

Another four factors deal with ambiguity, deprival, conflict and frustration as sources of stress.

A third set of four factors reports tendency to flee from the situation, to go along with it passively, to stand ground, or to seek ways to come bring issues under control.

Preference Factors assessed by this Profile are:

Factor Name Description A Low Preference
A High Preference
Activities require us to spend energy and take action. Both expending energy and taking action may be sources of stress, either by putting pressure on us to perform or by creating inner tensions. Undertaking activities we would rather avoid brings added stress – see also the Activity Interests profile, Application (of interests) and Change & Variety, both of which may be stress indicators. Surrounding activities and events appear to be free of pressure and tension. This may reduce drive to perform. Sees surrounding activities and events as a source of pressure that may provide positive drive or create negative tensions.
Who we are may be a cause of stress. The way we view the world, our expectations of it and how we handle what comes at us may all increase pressures on us or raise inner tensions. A structured person in an unstructured environment, or vice versa, someone who lacks the training, experience or support needed in their situation, or lacks social skills when interacting with others, may undergo stress. Avoids taking on issues and activities that may be beyond capacity to perform. Creates pressure on self by taking on issues and activities that may be beyond capacity to perform, whether by complexity or number. Inner tension may be positive but it may bring a sudden halt.
Environment has a significant impact on the pressure we have to bear. Issues such as noise and dirt, poor layout, long hours and few breaks, or too little to do and no way of filling in time may cause distress, as will poor organization and erratic change. People are unlikely to feel OK in an environment that is hostile or sterile, and morale will suffer, individually or collectively. Environment creates little or no pressure or tension. Experiences pressure and tension from and within environment. May provide positive drive him or limit performance, depending on capacity to handle issues.
Those we interact with may be uncooperative, irritating, absent, inaccurate, forgetful, indifferent and so the list grows. All or any of these and many other issues can contribute to stress. But we need to be sure that this is real, not just perceived. We need to compare one with many, and many with each other, to have substantial insight. Is one person’s response to this survey a comment on the others, really, or on the respondent? Is it a common perception among the people who work in this group or team? Doesn’t consider others to be the source of own pressure and tension. Sees others as sources of pressure and tension.
Ambiguity leads to stress when there is continuing uncertainty, confusion or lack of clarity about processes, structure or intentions. It may result, for example, from an unclear situation, where one doesn’t know what to do or how it will be done, from contradictory pressures or demands, or from lack of understanding between people. Clear about what is to do and what is expected. Confused, lacks clarity in what is expected. Results from a variety of issues including conflicting demands, blurred goals, unclear or untried processes, vague standards of performance.
Deprival causes stress when people don’t have the ways or the means to get on with what they want to do or are required to do. Lack of information, tools, materials, cooperation or support are different forms of deprivation, as are lack of food, shelter, sleep and exercise. Substituting one thing for another may appear to supply a needed input, but the quality also needs to be a fair substitute. Failure to do that leads, for example, to dietary deficiencies where foods are concerned, confusion where rumor takes the place of facts, and lowered productivity when materials and facilities are below standard. Has the means and support to achieve what own ends and what is expected. Lacks the tangible means of achieving own ends or of doing what is expected. sees deficiencies in available processes, practical support, materials and facilities.
Conflict may be a sudden and abrupt cause of stress, or build over a long time. Generally we think of conflict between people, but we may also be in conflict with our environment, with our competitors’ activities, or even within ourselves. This conflict within may result, for example, from feelings such as regret, guilt and concern for others on the one side, and simultaneously, personal needs, ambition and self-centeredness on the other side, causing inner tensions. Conflict may be below the surface or in the open, continuing or sporadic, one against many or group against group. Unaffected by any controversy, disagreement or dissension. Affected by controversy, disagreement and dissension, which limits performance. Either relationships bring difficulties to working in harmony, or ways and means don’t suit the task at hand.
Frustration builds to stress over time when we are constantly unable to achieve some end. That end may be to create understanding with someone, to improve the quality or quantity of output, to make ends meet within a tight budget, or to find enough time to do all that has to be done, as some examples. Continuing frustration increases inner tensions. For a time we may go along with the situations, issues and exchanges that cause it but there are limits of tolerance and endurance. When we pass those, we stop going along with the flow and express our frustration through emotions such as anger or tears, or by avoiding the causes and triggers. Sees little to frustrate what has to be done. Frustrated by inability to get things done or make things happen, either because of own performance or environmental factors.
Flee responses range from minor level disengaging to major walk outs and they may be physical, mental or emotional. (See the Time Actions profile, factor K, Withdrawal, for possible correlation.) We might flee physically from conflict or in search of a more satisfying environment, a new job or a new life, perhaps. To flee mentally we shut out thoughts or ignore situations that bother us by sleeping or creating an alternative virtual world where imagination replaces reality. Emotional escape might be had by shutting off our feelings about issues that press on us. Ending one’s own life is the ultimate form of fleeing. Tolerates stressful situations and copes with people who may cause conflict. Avoids stressful situations and people who cause conflict, concedes ground easily to keep the peace.
Flow makes things easy by minimizing thought, decision and effort. ‘Go with the flow’ is a charming mantra but, in the sense we give flow here, accepts the power of the stream over the power of the person. It is the least stressful of the four responses but it still an acknowledgment of stress – why else do we need to go with the flow? To go against the flow is potentially more stressful now but potentially more productive and satisfying in the longer term. Attempts to go at own pace and in own direction. Seeks to fit in with events and with the pace of others. Goes along with the mainstream, adapting to changes as and when they occur.
Fight is based on the principle of standing one’s ground and battling for what one believes. There are many ways of fighting, some undercover and some open. One issue is the degree of overt aggression or covert deceit used in the ‘combat’ and where that leads. Assertive action may increase resistance and generate even harder reactions Deceptive tactics may similarly bring a strong response as others defend their territory. Either course may lead to a complete breakdown in relationships. (See factor G: Conflict, above, as a cause of stress.) Takes a conciliatory approach to resolving issues, avoids creating situations that could lead to confrontation. Under pressure, stands own ground, takes a strong position on issues, fights back against any pressure.
Fumble is the most productive single response of these four. Without knowing exactly what to do or how to go about it, people do try to bring situations under control. The wet and greasy football has chaotic dynamics. No-one can truly predict how it will behave or what will happen next, but everyone on the field wants to get possession. That’s their job. So they do their best, fumbling
for control. How well they do will depend on their fitness, skills, discipline, collaboration and use of rehearsed drills – and the competition they face.
In uncertain situations, either intervenes directly or turns away from the issue. Looks for positive ways to cope, working things out as they evolve. When unsure what to do, defers action until in a position to decide.

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