The Stress and Revelations Found in Isolation

What behaviors have surfaced in your personality during isolation that have surprised you? What about your partner and family?

Never before in most of our lifetimes have we as a global family been subjected to isolation, separation, loneliness, and enforced seclusion on this scale. Never before have our rights to make daily choices been removed. It’s inevitable, therefore, that areas of our behavior will surface that otherwise haven’t been obvious before the coronavirus lockdown.

All kinds of changes to environments can produce deviations in behavior, but add to these restrictions to movement. You can’t get out of the way of other people’s behaviors and that’s a recipe for disaster.

Let’s take a light-hearted look at possible answers to these questions. This is not a counseling session; rather, a deep dive into behavioral differences.

A case study for perspective

The Johnson Family (names have been changed) – Dad, Mum, two sons, and a daughter. Dad Tom runs a successful leadership training consultancy. Mum Fiona is a medical clinic receptionist. Eldest son Junior works for the government and runs a department. Son Kevin is a social worker, focusing on family issues. Daughter Susan is a marketing consultant and runs her own business.

Some of the more unsettling traits that have surfaced during isolation have caused challenges but have also served to enable the family to recognize the importance of understanding and managing the differences in their behavior.

Example: Tom, after just a few days of isolation, decided that he would head to his office as no one would be there. He said he would grab some take away food on the way back and fill up the car with gas. Tom had always been a spontaneous risk-taker. He could recognize a good business deal and was prepared to back his judgment and take risks when necessary. However, isolation had proved difficult for him and he started to rebel against it and become unfocused and overconfident. He thought he knew best.

Kevin was all for the challenge of getting out of isolation and said he’d go along for the ride. As a social worker, Kevin was engaging and trusting. He could talk to anyone and put them at ease. He knew he was inclined to become too empathetic with his clients, but it worked for him and them in terms of finding a solution to their difficulties. But after a few weeks of isolation, he was trying to talk himself and his family into breaking the rules. He became emotional and somewhat immature in his arguments.

Fiona, on the other hand, pointed out all the issues raised both in the media and from her experience at the medical center as to why her husband’s idea was foolish and potentially dangerous to the family. She insisted they all be compliant and follow the rules. Against the barrage of talking from her spontaneous, sceptical, outgoing, creative family she found herself becoming passive and hesitant and losing her inherent ability to be practical and diplomatic.

Junior sat on the fence – on the one hand, he wasn’t entirely in sync with what the news reports said about the need for strict isolation and yet questioned his father’s impulsive behavior. He ignored Kevin’s loud, effusive pleas to let them go. Not because he didn’t love his brother, but because he knew he was too emotional and trusting.

Susan hid the car keys, as she could see the family dynamics breaking down. She headed to her laptop to find a solution online to help the family before it deteriorated into all-out war. As Susan became impatient and critical of the way her father was flouting the rules, her brothers, infuriating her for no particular reason other than they were her brothers, she watched with a deepening concern as her parents’ behavior escalated in ways she’d not seen before.

Susan realized that in this enforced and confusing setting her family was losing perspective. She could see that, until they truly understood what was happening and why they might not get through it. She feared they wouldn’t surface from isolation intact as a family unit.

The turning point

Susan had completed some marketing work for DNA Behavior International. As part of the contract, she completed a discovery process the outcomes of which were used to help her integrate quickly with the team.

As she pointed out to her family, the things that she was seeing in their behaviors and her concern about how fractured the family was becoming, they began to realize they were in trouble. Knowing that her behavioral style was that of an initiator, she insisted the family complete their own discovery online, knowing they would receive the outcomes in real-time.

Susan watched as they read their reports and saw the depth of insight they revealed. Tom realized that his spontaneous and risk-taker factors that helped him build a successful business were now showing up as impulsive and unfocused. Fiona, on the other hand, recognized she had retreated into compliance just to keep the peace and had allowed her consistent approach to issues, and her experience to be usurped by others’ behavior.

Junior could see he needed to get off the fence and use his ability to question and reason to influence others’ behavior through quiet, focused conversation. Kevin was the answer to pulling his family together. He put his arms around them (metaphorically), reminding them of the strong caring family unit they were before the pandemic.

Susan watched all this and took on the role of thinking imaginatively of how they could get through isolation as a family without wrecking themselves. She asked DNA Behavior to run a family team report so they could get a deeper understanding of how to survive the isolation by understanding their differences.

As DNA Behavior is a remote-working business, they talked to the family online about their relationships. A DNA Behavior consultant was able to give them pointers on how best to flex with each other when or if inappropriate behaviors surfaced again.

The family is now armed with their inherent behavioral factors, a family team report, and knowledge of their communication styles. They know environment impacts behavior and communication, AND now they are confident of exiting home isolation and remote work intact.

Be like the Johnsons…

We’re here to help. Reach out to us so you can understand the dynamics of your household during this season of isolation.

Begin by completing a no-cost, no-obligation DNA Behavior discovery. In conjunction, book a no-cost, no-obligation consulting appointment with one of our pros. You’ll gain new insights and skills that will serve you in isolation and when it is just a distant memory.

In conjunction, book a no-cost, no-obligation consulting appointment.

Related: Managing Client Emotions in Times of Market Volatility