Extra Task-orientation and Extra Empathy

Task-orientation and EmpathyThere are various typologies for personal or management styles that distinguish between “task-oriented” versus “people-oriented” focus. It is a way of assessing whether in your daily life and behaviour you particularly focus either on optimally fulfilling a task in terms of content, or on the people with whom you are connected in some way. We specify the concept of people-orientation as ability to empathizeempathy –: the ability to place yourself mentally or emotionally in the shoes of another person.

Because one of the characteristics of XIPs is their tendency towards limitlessness (they are naturally intense and driven), their personal characteristics often appear to be larger than life. It is then sometimes problematic trying to estimate when that “extra” gets the upper hand and becomes “too much” or even “pathological.” Therefore if some XIPs, compared with other XIPs, are relatively task-oriented or relatively empathic, this means that their environment will actually perceive them as extra task-oriented (Xt), or extra empathic (Xe) respectively . Dependent on the interchange with their environment, extra benefit is achieved, or an escalation occurs whereby the behaviour of the XIP is regarded as undesirable or even a disorder by the environment or by an expert.

So different…

How much extra task-orientation and extra empathy actually differ from each other is shown when the typical characteristics are compared.

Extra task-orientation (Xt)
Extra empathy (Xe)

1. The plan or the task must be executed and anything that stands in the way of achieving this is by definition less important;

1. Extra empathic people cannot, in practical terms, switch off their empathic capacity;

2. There is a strong need for structure to execute the task optimally;

2. Extra empathic people have the tendency not to make a conscious distinction between their own feelings and those of another person they have tuned into;

3. People are assessed on their actual words and deeds. Non-verbal signals play little or no role;

3. What the other person thinks or feels is more important than what he/she does;

4. There is a strong ability to deal with concrete situations at the cost of an ability to generalize experiences;

4. The processing of information about the other person gained through tuning in to that person can easily suppress the processing of extra empathic people’s own thoughts and feelings;

5. Over-stimulation of the senses of an extra task-oriented person easily leads to intense agitation;

5. Extra empathic people quickly feel responsible for another person;

6. There is little tolerance for behaviour in the environment that does not comply with the XIP’s own task-orientation;

6. The need to help the other can be at the expense of doing things that are important for extra empathic people themselves;

7. The extra task-oriented person feels uncomfortable with political games or other situations in which someone’s words and deeds do not immediately reveal their intention.

7. It is painful if the other person does not demonstrate any empathy.

Escalating to “extra extra”

When both parties become involved in a relationship at work or in private life (opposites attract) they tend to have difficulties in accurately assessing the unfamiliar characteristics in the other party and in optimally dealing with them. In discord situations, this tension can easily lead to escalation as the extra task-oriented person has the tendency to become “extra extra task-oriented” – XXt – and the extra empathic person to become XXe: “extra extra empathic.” Exaggeration of the quality leads to too much of a good thing, and thus to a distortion. An allergic response to this distortion is the result, which has the effect of maintaining the distortion.

Effectiveness in work and relationships

Basically, being extra task-oriented or being extra empathic are attractive properties both in human terms and commercial effectiveness. However, if one’s Xt or Xe gets out of hand, or is always strongly evident, this may lead to stagnation.
Through a better understanding of the various factors for escalation and of the process for de-escalation, one can use this quality in a more effective way.
This includes awareness on whether one’s own extreme behaviour appears to be situational – it does not occur or become problematic in many other situations – or that a high degree of Xt or Xe is more or less a constant characteristic.