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4 Personality Traits that Create Conflicts in The Workplace

4 Personality Traits that Create Conflicts in The Workplace

No matter how careful you are, difficult situations in the workplace are going to happen. They are unavoidable. Unlike your friends, you can’t choose who you work with. Unlike your family, you won’t have the same experiences or share similar values with your co-workers.

People from all different backgrounds are being asked to work together. There will be differences and there will be conflicts from time to time. For many of us, we will spend more time with our coworkers than anyone else. That’s 8+ hours per day, 5 days a week, over and over again. You are stuck together, you have to work together, and you will not always see eye to eye on everything.

In our social lives, we can simply distance ourselves from those that are creating friction in our lives. Friends, acquaintances or strangers that cause more problems than they are worth can be removed from the complicated equation that we call life. At the workplace, however, it is not that easy. When you are working with difficult people in the workplace, you are stuck with them. You can either ignore it or take it on face to face.

To add further complications to the situation, the environment that you are in expects you to be able to maintain a professional demeanor, regardless of how unprofessional your coworker may be acting.

Employers Trending Towards Team Project Implementation

There has been a growing trend among employers assigning teams to projects as opposed to individuals. The idea is that a group of people will be able to specialize in the areas of the project that best fit their skill sets, allowing other members to work on portions of the project that they themselves may not excel at. This, in theory, will lead to better results for the employer and project.

team in the workplace

    The downside to the growing trend of teams in the workplace is that it places certain personalities together that may not be compatible. This leads to conflicts in the workplace within the team which can hinder efficiency and slow down progress.

    It’s hard to tell who will thrive in a team environment and who will struggle. Often, it will come down to the personality traits of each member and how well those traits complement (or clash) with each other.

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    Personality Types in the Workplace that Clash

    There are four main personality traits that show themselves in a group setting. These main traits are impulsiveness, skepticism, willingness to accept others and their ideas, and their systematic approach to the task at hand.

    Most team members will demonstrate the traits of two of these personality types:

    1. Dominant Personalities: Skeptical and Impulsive

    People with a dominant personality are direct and confrontational. They will address an issue head on, sometimes too quickly. They are impulsive and will have a tendency to go “all-in” with something they feel strongly about.

    They are skeptical people. If they do not see eye to eye on something, they are going to be hard to convince. They don’t have a lot of patience, but they will keep the group pushing forward.

    Dominant Personalities – Skeptical and Impulsive

      2. Conscientious Personalities – Skeptical and Methodical

      People with a conscientious personality are just as skeptical as those with dominant personality traits. They are set in their ways and difficult to convince otherwise. Conscientious people take a systematic approach to everything they do.

      They are more patient, sometimes a fault. They are detail oriented and very logical thinkers. They are less likely to rush things or leave any mistakes, but they can really drag down the timeline of a project within a team environment.

      3. Influential Personalities – Accepting and Impulsive

      People with an influential personality will feel at home in a team environment. They work well with others and show enthusiasm for group settings.

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      They act impulsively. They are quick to take an idea and run with it. They will have some trouble turning down conflicting ideas, often leading to difficulties when those ideas clash. They are great support members within a team, but they will often lack in the leadership department.

      4. Steady Personalities – Accepting and Methodical

      People with a steady personality are consistent and predictable. They will not cause distractions within a group atmosphere. They prioritize group harmony above all else.

      Much like influential personalities, they are great team members but lack leadership skills. They don’t push projects along very effectively, but they don’t create distractions or issues that could slow progress down.

      Why these Personality Profiles can Clash

      Between these four personality types, the conflict will often arise in group settings between the opposite types.

      Steady personalities will not respond will those with dominant traits and vice versa. Steady personalities will be more passive-aggressive while dominant personalities will be more assertive and aggressive.

      Likewise, conscientious people will not always work well with influential people. Influential personalities are too impulsive. This will not sit well with a detail oriented conscientious person.

      On the other hand, a conscientious person may nit-pick at things that aren’t needed, sometimes slowing the project down to a halt. This conflict in the pace of the project will create friction between the two sides.

      These Personality Traits Clash on Two Levels:

      Impulsive and methodical approaches do not alight with each other. This will often create conflict with the speed vs. attention to detail that the group is applying as they progress through the project.

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      Skepticism and acceptance will have contradictory effects. While skeptical people will be hesitant to accept new or alternative ideas until they are thoroughly convinced, more accepting team members will be eager to implement new ideas as they come.

      Dealing with Personality

        Dealing with Personality Differences as an Employee

        Understanding these personality types will help you handle conflicts more effectively. By knowing what to expect, you will be less likely to be caught off guard when there is a conflict and you will be better equipped to diffuse the situation and work in harmony with one another.

        This works in two ways:

        • Understanding the personality types of your group members

        Think about the traits that your coworkers have displayed in the past. How do they handle conflict? How do they express themselves? You can profile their personality traits based their past behavior. Expect them to exhibit the same traits going forward.

        • Understanding your own personality traits

        Are you an assertive person, or more passive? If things aren’t going the way you want them to go, will you speak out or will you let it fester? When an idea that you know is wrong is brought up, is your first instinct to try and figure out how you can implement it, or will you shoot it down quickly? Think about these questions and try to figure out what traits you display in a group setting.

        Be critical of yourself when you are doing this. It’s easy to give yourself the benefit of the doubt and place yourself above all of these categories. Of course, most people will fall somewhere in the middle of all of these traits, but chances are, your personality will skew more one way or the other.

        If you are truly stumped, think about the personality traits of the people you don’t get along with. You are probably the opposite of them.

        How to Manage These Personality Conflicts

        • Accepting that Conflicts Will Happen

        The first step in managing these conflicts is to accept that they will occur. Even if you’ve never had an issue with a team member in the past, it is always better to err on the side of caution and assume they will occur eventually.

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        Best case, no conflict occurs at all. Worst case, your personalities clash and you will know what is happening. Either way, it’s better to be prepared than unprepared.

        managing conflict at the workplace
          • It’s Not Their Fault

          Understand that it is not anyone’s fault. No one can change their personality. When personalities clash, it’s usually not a matter of who is right or wrong. Instead, it’s a simple fact that your natural personality traits will clash in a team setting.

          If you look at it that way, it’s no one’s fault. If you are caught up in a conflict with one of your coworkers, don’t focus on defending your actions or criticizing them. Instead, recognize that it is simply a matter of your opposing personality traits clashing and focus your energy on finding a middle ground that you can both use to move forward with the work.

          • Focus on Letting It Go

          After establishing why these conflicts occur, don’t spend your energy trying to change them. It won’t work. The natural response is to battle it out; defend your actions and criticize theirs. This will never lead to a long-term solution.

          The best way to handle conflicts like this is to understand that people make mistakes and everyone won’t always get along perfectly. It may be due to poor communication, confusion, or it could simply be that one of you has misinterpreted the other. In any case, conflicts will often stem from a place where neither party is completely at fault.

          Focus on finding a way to move past the problem and prevent it from affecting the project. Don’t take it personally because it is not an intentional attack towards you.

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          Anand Mishra

          Information Technology

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          The Gentle Art of Saying No

          The Gentle Art of Saying No

          No!

          It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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          But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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          What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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          But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

          1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
          2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
          3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
          4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
          5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
          6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
          7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
          8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
          9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
          10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

          Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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