A “reversal” occurs when an individual’s Usual Behavior (which can be seen by others) and their Stress Behavior (also seen) is the opposite of the underlying Need. This is where it can get difficult for the person: because the displayed Usual and Stress behaviors are exactly the opposite, it continues to solicit and reinforce the wrong behavior from other people, and from the person’s environment. As a result, the person’s Needs are not as apparent to others, and they continue to not be met in many social situations. Thus, the destructive cycle continues.
From a consultant’s perspective, this is the social answering pattern we call a 'reversal.' However, this is not the way I recommend you explain a reversal during your interpretation of a Birkman report. An expert in the Birkman office says they explain a reversal as “a surprise.” In other words, the person’s stress reaction is not what is expected by the outside world and might come as a shock. This disparity can lead to issues for both the individual and the individual’s environment.
The fix? Emphasize to the person the importance of being aware of their unique underlying Needs. Encourage the person to communicate—in a positive way—their actual or preferred Need to the rest of the world. Urge the person to help others out by taking responsibility for getting their Needs met.
If you are interested in learning more about reversals, sign up for the Birkman Advanced Concepts or Report Interpretation courses through the Birkman Learning System.
Amy Shepley, Director of Product Innovations at Birkman, has created a series of articles exploring the impact that reversals can have for the nine behavioral Components.