A Guide to Understanding Different Reactions to Tragedy
This morning I turned on Good Morning America, as I do every morning, only to be greeted yet AGAIN with the sad news of another mass shooting… this time the worst in “the history of American mass shootings”. The fact that I just typed… “the history of American mass shootings” brings a tear to my eye. We as a country and the world have faced many tragedies recently… 3 devastating hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanoes, wild fires, excessive heat warnings, floods, social and economical unrest, and now another mass shooting. As our country faces pulling together after this recent tragedy, I am paused to consider the diverse ways people respond to tragic events. You see not everyone handles tragedy the same. And that is OK! But it is helpful to understand that some will not grieve the same way you do. When we understand that we can help each other heal instead of judging.
As a coach and DISC practitioner I live for analyzing behavior patterns and solving problems. In crisis, I have seen some people rush to activism, some get to work to avoid thinking about it, some people rush to solitude, some rush to be with the people they love, some people research to find all the facts and try to make sense of it all. The point is… we all handle things differently.
Most high “D” behavior styles will pause reflect and move on. They will keep busy with things they can control and act on. They will allow themselves little downtime and little time to process. To others this may seem harsh or insensitive… but, this is just how a high “D” handles crisis.
Most high “I” behavior styles will flock to groups to be around people, some will start a fundraising effort, some will make signs or create (repeated) social media posts of support… a “we’re in this together” mentality. They may share information that is not backed by fact, but more based on emotion. To others this can seem irresponsible or rash in the respect that they can stir up emotions in others.
Most high “S” behavior styles will shelter at home… surround themselves with what is comfortable, known and familiar. They will bring their loved ones close and make sure they are OK without sharing much about their own feelings. To other this may look like they are keeping their head in the sand… and to an “S”, that is just what they want in crisis!
Most high “C” behavior styles will watch all the news stations, read articles, listen to the radio, scan social media, gather information, and some will even try to figure out a plan to “make things better” or make sense of something that may not make sense. They are looking for logic… something to solve, an answer. A high “C” will need as much information, angles and stories as they can get, even if it is upsetting to them. To others this may seem like punishment… “Why are you doing this to yourself… turn off the TV”, But they can’t.
There is no “Right” or “Wrong” way to handle tragedy… what is most important is to give people the freedom to process without judgement of how they “should” react or respond. My goal in this article is to bring to light the fact that we are all different, yet all beautiful. As we try to understand what is going on in our world… remember to give people grace… give people the space to grieve or be angry or whatever emotion comes up for them… without judgement. We will get through this. Sending love and hugs to you all!