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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.

          More by this author

          Anand Mishra

          Information Technology

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          Last Updated on January 24, 2021

          How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

          How to Say No When You Know You Say Yes Too Often

          Do you say yes so often that you no longer feel that your own needs are being met? Are you wondering how to say no to people?

          For years, I was a serial people pleaser[1]. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time, especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

          But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

          It took a long while, but I learned the art of saying no. Saying no meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. When that happened, I became a lot happier.

          And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

          The Importance of Saying No

          When you learn the art of saying no, you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

          In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

          Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey, considered one of the most successful women in the world, confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything.

          Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

          Warren Buffett views “no” as essential to his success. He said:

          “The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

          When I made “no” a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success, focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

          How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

          It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say no.

          From an early age, we are conditioned to say yes. We said yes probably hundreds of times in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work, to get a promotion, to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

          We say yes because we feel good when we help someone, because it can seem like the right thing to do, because we think that is key to success, and because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist.

          And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves.

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          At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we are feeling bad that we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

          The message, no matter where we turn, is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

          How Do You Say No Without Feeling Guilty?

          Deciding to add the word “no” to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say no, but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of no that you could finally create more time for things you care about.

          But let’s be honest, using the word “no” doesn’t come easily for many people.

          3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

          1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

          Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time, especially you haven’t done it much in the past, will feel awkward. Your comfort zone is “yes,” so it’s time to challenge that and step outside that.

          If you need help getting out of your comfort zone, check out this article.

          2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

          When you want to learn how to say no, remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it: who else knows about all of the demands in your life? No one.

          Only you are at the center of all of these requests. You are the only one that understands what time you really have.

          3. Saying No Means Saying Yes to Something That Matters

          When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else that we may care more about. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

          6 Ways to Start Saying No

          Incorporating that little word “no” into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

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          1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

          One of the biggest challenges to saying no is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no will reflect poorly on you?

          Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

          2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

          Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because of FOMO, even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

          Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better[2].

          3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say No

          Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say yes because we worry about how others will respond or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose their respect. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

          Keep in mind that saying no can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way.

          You might disappoint someone initially, but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to. And it will often help others have more respect for you and your boundaries, not less.

          4. When the Request Comes in, Sit on It

          Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

          Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say no. There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

          5. Communicate Your “No” with Transparency and Kindness

          When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest[3] to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

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          How do you say no? 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

            Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

            Clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

            6. Consider How to Use a Modified No

            If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” as this will give you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

            Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task, but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

            Final Thoughts

            Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

            Use the request as a way to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself.

            Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project, but not by working all weekend. You’ll find yourself much happier.

            More Tips on How to Say No

            Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

            Reference

            [1] Science of People: 11 Expert Tips to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Start Doing You
            [2] Anxiety and Depression Association of America: Tips to Get Over Your FOMO, or Fear of Missing Out
            [3] Cooks Hill Counseling: 9 Healthy Ways to Say “No”

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