Posted: 03 Aug. 2021 3 min. read

Coping strategies in times of stress

Our last blog explored how the Business Chemistry types experience stress and the potential reasons for differences between the Types. Now let’s talk about the situations that people typically find stressful at work, and the coping mechanisms favoured by each Business Chemistry type when they find themselves under pressure. 


As part of our stress study, we asked over 23,000 people about their general stress levels and what situations they found to be most stressful. Firstly, some situations are experienced as more stressful than others; making an error, in particular, seems upsetting for just about everyone. Experiencing conflict was next, alongside a challenging workload and juggling many responsibilities, followed by urgent tasks and face-to-face interactions. This got us wondering if the Business Chemistry types would find different situations most stressful but this didn’t appear to be the case.

Our study also looked ​at the ways individuals cope with stress, and in this respect we found that Business Chemistry type influenced how people relieve the pressure when it bubbles up. This might explain why, when an urgent piece of work lands in a team’s mailbox, some might instantly go on ‘do-not-disturb’ status, when others will decide it’s a good time to take a break.

Let’s have a closer look. 

  • We found that action is the most common strategy overall, however jumping in and tackling the issue was a little more common for Pioneers and Drivers than Guardians and Integrators who prefer to think things through first.
  • Cognitive strategies, such as stepping back to look at the big picture, looking on the bright side, and thinking through possibilities are next and used the most by Pioneers. This isn’t really surprising given how much Pioneers love ideas.
  • After cognitive strategies comes groundwork strategies. These strategies include gathering more information or doing organisational tasks, and these are used the most by Guardians. Of course these fit nicely with their process and detail-orientated nature.
  • Next are interpersonal strategies, like asking someone for help or talking through feelings with someone. These were used less overall than we expected, but Pioneers and Integrators used them the most. ​
  • At the bottom of the list we have time out strategies such as socialising or activities to blow off steam. These were used least (or admitted to the least) but mostly by Pioneers.

In addition to the varying coping mechanisms the types use when stressed, our study also found there to be statistically significant differences in the overall number of strategies used by the Business Chemistry types. Pioneers use the most strategies, which you might expect from the most adaptable type. Guardians use the least strategies. ​

So there you have it, the Business Chemistry types deal with stress in different ways, so what looks like a distraction to you may be an important strategy for managing stress to someone else. Bearing these differences in mind can help you make space for people’s individual styles of coping during stressful times.

Next time we’ll look at what you can do to address the topic of stress with those you work with and help them reduce their stress by shifting their mindset.​

Sign up for the latest updates

Key contact

Jessica Dooley

Jessica Dooley

Senior Manager

Jessica founded and leads Deloitte’s Business Chemistry client practice for the UK and North South Europe member firms. A business behavioural tool designed to help teams communicate and collaborate better for greater success, Business Chemistry is a proprietary self-assessment tool used to support boards, executive, and senior leadership teams across the FTSE, private, and public sectors. She helps teams understand each other’s working styles; hold honest conversations; be better leaders of diverse teams; build plans for enhanced collaboration; team deliberately for a common purpose; and build trust quickly to achieve strategic and organisational goals. The book ‘Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Relationships – a guide to putting cognitive diversity to work’ was released in the US and UK in May 2018.