Dealing with different personalities at work

One of the main causes of conflict is conflict are the different personalities at work. In this blog, I’ll explain the four major personality types and reveal where the natural areas of disagreement are and give you some practical quick tips to reduce the natural friction & conflict that exists between the personality types.

When having different personalities at work is the cause of the conflict, there is no real issue at stake, rather the parties “just don’t get along” because they have different personalities and those personalities are in conflict. While many conflicts are caused by something someone does, this type of conflict is caused by who the person is, not what they do.

Because the conflict is about the personalities, not a particular issue, the conflict will seem to follow the people around and will show up in many different situations where it doesn’t seem like there should be any problem.

Types of Personalities

Four General Types of Personalities

Generally, people can be put into four general personality types:

  • The “Controller” who is mainly interested in getting things done,
  • The “Analyzer” who is mostly interested in organizing things
  • The “Influencer” who is primarily interested in people & fun
  • The “Supporter” who is primarily interested in avoiding making mistakes & conflict.

In reality people are more complex than these four general categories and most people are a combination of more than just one type, but the types provide a useful way to understand people.

While conflict is possible between any of the types of different personalities at work, there are three major natural conflict situations:

Controller and Controller

Besides wanting to get things done, the controller has the tendency to make quick decisions and not question the decision after it has been made. This tendancy gives the impression that they think they are always right. Because of this, putting more than one controller together in a group many cause conflict because each one wants to be the decision maker and believes that his or her choices are the correct answer. Unless the Controllers are well-mannered or professional, a conflict based upon competition for supremacy can follow.

Controller and Supporter

Because the controller has no problem making decisions even if they don’t have enough information, this puts them in natural conflict with the Supporter whose natural tendency is to not make a decision for fear of being wrong. Supporters will go to great lengths to avoid a conflict while the Controller is not fazed by confrontation. In many interactions the Controller can become frustrated by the Supporters lack of decisiveness and the Supporter will see the Controller as being too pushy or bossy. Because the Supporter wants to avoid conflict, rarely will this type of conflict break open. Rather it will tend to be suppressed and the Controller may be completely unaware that it exists.

Influencer and Analyzer

The influencer is primarily interested in people and fun and has a very low task orientation. This low task orientation means that the Influencer has little interest in details while the Analyzer is driven by details, lists, and tasks. The Analyzer will become frustrated because the Influencer never seems to be organized or get much done. The Influencer becomes annoyed because the Analyzer never wants to talk or socialize and only seems to be interested in data.

Resolving Personality Conflicts

Here is a three-step process that will help you to quickly resolve conflicts between the different personalities at work:

  1. Understand your own personality type and what your tendencies are. One way to do this is to use a personality test such as the Myers Briggs. If you are interested in having this test done with your group, feel free to contact me or look online for other resources.
  2. Learn to quickly find out the personalities of other people. As you learn more about the personality types, you will easily be able to spot them in the people you interact with. Teams can even post their personality type on their cubical or office door so that co-workers know how best to interact with them.
  3. Adapt yourself to the other person. Always take responsibility for your interactions with other people and you will find that conflict can be dissolved before it ever begins. If you are waiting for the other person to adapt to you, they might never do it because they don’t have the personality insights that you have.

By following these three steps you can quickly become a master at avoiding and resolving personality conflicts wherever you go.

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