The supermarket battleground may give rise to a few confrontations with other shoppers but impatience in the driving situation exposes the ugly side of extreme Type A Behaviour. The typical Type A driver will always strive to drive as fast as possible, jump the red light and make Grand Prix starts just as the lights turn green. They relentlessly and obsessively drive close to the car in front and overtake at any possible, or even near-impossible, opportunity. They will compulsively switch lanes in traffic jams and take alternative routes in an attempt to avoid an apparent hold-up, often not knowing exactly where they are heading!
One extreme Type A recalled how he fought a constant stress battle always to avoid any lane which might be bottled up. If I see a slow-moving car or lorry I'm out of its way before I'm anywhere near it, ‚ he exclaimed.
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In fact he admitted that his driving behaviour in this respect was so successful that he usually arrived early for his appointments and had to sit in his car and wait!
A participant at one of our workshops told us of his experience when being driven to a meeting by a work colleague. My colleague's driving was so ‹“Type A'. He would shout at other drivers who got in his way, he would even wind the window down to get more effect, flash his lights and sound the horn. I swear I'm not going with him again if he drives. ? A week later another meeting came up and our participant insisted that he drove instead of his Type A colleague. You wouldn't believe it, ‚ he told us. My colleague flashed my lights and wound my window down and shouted at me to do the same! ?
Such driving behaviour seems harmless when compared to that of some Californian drivers who have shot dead or wounded other motorists who annoyed them. Sadly, there are many examples of road rage in Britain. Recently on the M4 a driver was forced to stop, then assaulted by a motorist who had been attempting to overtake. Another motorist met his fate at the end of a tyre mallet when he angered the driver behind by allowing a woman with a pram to cross at the lights when they turned to green. Then there is the car-park space – scene of many aggressive confrontations as two drivers aim for the only vacant spot. Similar barrages of abuse fill the air when a passing place is too narrow and both drivers feel the other should reverse.
Being held up, thus having valuable time taken away from them, makes Type As angry and hostile. This reflects the general tendency for Type As to be very easily irritated and angry over trivial happenings and the mistakes of others and themselves. They can blow a fuse when they find the toothpaste squeezed from the middle of the tube if they always methodically squeeze it from the bottom. In America, we heard of a heart attack patient whose wife had put the toilet roll on the holder the wrong way round. The husband grabbed the roll, confronted his wife with it and screamed at her, How many times have I told you to He had a second non-fatal heart attack. We hear you ask yourself which way round did this man like his toilet roll? There is only one right way, as you know; with the paper coming over the top, of course. Well, it has to be according to the man because, You wouldn't see the pattern if the paper hung over the back‚. That highlights another Type A characteristic – they think they are always right.
Irritation, anger and hostility generated and aimed at others harms the very person we least expect it to – ourselves. The noradrenaline released in this situation can be a killer! So the message is do not get mad in the first place; modify your beliefs and attitudes to reduce this inappropriate Type A Behaviour. How to do this is the topic of Chapter 13.
Sometimes it is difficult to understand why such trivial things lead Type As into the countdown for blast-off. One participant working with a group to modify his Type A Behaviour would regularly recall at meetings how cutting his lawn caused him much aggravation. His wife described how she heard a noise coming from the garden and found her husband smashing the electric mower against the concrete washing-line post. With bits of mower strewn around the garden, he shouted, B … thing keeps cutting out! ?. His wife pointed out that he had only bought it two weeks ago and it was still under guarantee! With such behaviour over cutting the lawn we pictured the garden as having half an acre or so of grass. It was in fact only a few square metres!
By describing Type A Behaviour in this way we hope to give you a guide to identifying it in yourself and others. Type As tend to be excessively competitive, ambitious and self-involved. They are poor listeners, interrupt whilst others are talking, head-nod to encourage the speaker to hurry along and often bring the conversation around to themselves. In conversations they frequently self-reference, that is, they often refer to themselves by regular use of pronouns ‹“I', ‹“me', ‹“my' and ‹“mine'. They frequently describe things in unnecessary detail, are obsessed with numbers and quantities and with their achievements at work and in everything they do.