Posted: 11 Aug. 2021 5 min. read

Do’s and don’ts during times of stress

Business Chemistry is based on the principle that we can strengthen our relationships at work by understanding and leveraging our similarities and differences to flex our style. 

As we continue on our wellbeing journey, let’s remind ourselves of some important points when working with a diverse team:

  • A particular event may not feel stressful to you, however others may feel differently. If you understand this you’ll be able to respond more appropriately in certain scenarios. This may be particularly important if you’re a Pioneer or Driver, who typically experience less stress, working with a Guardian or Integrator who typically experience more stress.
  • Leaders should consider how to reduce stress levels for those who feel they are less effective under such conditions, most notably Guardians and Integrators. Creating an environment where all types can thrive is likely to raise morale and performance of the whole team.
  • It’s not always possible to reduce stress, however it is possible to shift one’s mindset to alter the effects of stress on people and performance. In some cases, shifting mindset can transform stress into an opportunity.

To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts when working with each Business Chemistry type during times of stress.


  • Do: Give Guardians space and time for their own methods of coping. Under stress, Guardians prefer to go to ground e.g. get more information and create a plan before moving to action, so be patient.
  • Do: Clarify expectations. Guardians tend to dislike ambiguity so setting clear expectations will encourage them to thrive in times of stress.
  • Don’t: Apply more pressure. A sense of urgency causes more stress for Guardians than for other types. When possible, release pressure instead.
  • Don’t: Assume that Guardians can’t succeed in high-stress environments. While they may experience more stress than other types, many of them (the majority) say they’re stressed only rarely to sometimes. Many also say they’re effective under stress.
  • Mindset shift: Challenge a Guardian to reframe their feelings of stress as excitement or investment.


  • Do: Try to determine whether your fellow Integrators are more inwardly-focused (I-Dreamers) or outwardly-focused (I-Teamers). Dreamers are shown to experience higher levels of stress and therefore may need extra support in managing it.
  • Do: Help Integrators see that what they’re doing makes a difference. Integrators are the most likely type to say they thrive when they have a sense their work matters.
  • Don’t: Assume Integrators will reach out for support when stressed. Integrators can retreat into themselves so proactively offer support instead. Interpersonal strategies such as asking for help or talking about feelings are uncommon ways of coping, even for Integrators.
  • Don’t: Think a stressful situation excuses bad behaviour. During times of stress, Integrators may find a lack of diplomacy displayed by others as even more insensitive during times of stress.
  • Mindset shift: Encourage Integrators to think about how the stress they’re enduring is making a positive difference for others, or how they can proactively support others during stressful times.


  • Do: Encourage Drivers to stay flexible and remind them that options exist. Drivers can be accused of having tunnel vision, and stress can make them even more prone to this.
  • Do: Coach on conflict. Help Drivers realise that conflict may not bother them but can raise stress levels for others. More than ever, during times of stress it’s important to remember how behaviours and style can impact others.
  • Don’t: Be afraid to challenge them. More than any other type, Drivers say they feel energised when faced with challenging tasks.
  • Don’t: Assume Drivers are immune to stress. Inwardly-focused Drivers (D-Scientists) report more stress than outwardly-focused Drivers (D-Commanders), Pioneers, and even outwardly-focused Integrators (I-Teamers).
  • Mindset shift: Ask a Driver how stress can provide fuel for raising their personal performance, or encourage them to recall what personal resources they have drawn on to get them through stressful times in the past.


  • Do: Remind Pioneers that while they may feel fine, others may be experiencing greater levels of stress. They may benefit from adjusting their approach accordingly.
  • Do: Accept Pioneers’ varied coping mechanisms for stress. Some of their methods such as socialising and exercising may look unproductive to you but they might be helping a Pioneer reduce their stress.
  • Don’t: Assume there is no limit to the amount of stress a Pioneer can handle. Too much stress, for too long, can have negative effects for anyone, including Pioneers.
  • Don’t: Expect a Pioneer under stress to act like a Pioneer who’s not under stress. Our research suggests that Pioneers change the most when under stress so keep it in check to get the best out of them.
  • Mindset shift: Urge Pioneers to consider how a stressful experience may contribute to their personal growth.

As Business Chemistry shows time and time again, one size doesn’t fit all. If we are to get the best out of our people and support our colleagues effectively we need to take our differences into consideration. 

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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.