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Fortunately, Your Conflicts Are NOT About Personality Conflicts

Have you ever talked about a conflict with someone and said: "It's a personality conflict?"

Of course you have. It's almost universal. But what does it mean? Is it even true? Or ever true?

What IS A Personality Conflict?

A personality conflict, so people believe is a situation where there is some sort of mismatch between some permanent characteristics of each person (personality), such that they cause conflict.

Since personality is seen to be something "permanent" and enduring these situations would be extremely bad news for resolving conflicts and getting past them. How can you fix a conflict if its due to permanent parts of each person? You can't.

The Good News About Personality Conflicts

The good news is that conflicts and disagreements are not about personality clashes. While it may be true that each of us has different styles, and was of doing and thinking, in addition to different values, the real causes of conflict have to do with what people do and say.

That is, the only ways we can come into conflict states is through what we can see, hear or sense in some way -- observables.

It may be the case that we "know" a person's personality and we don't like it, but if we focus on HOW we know -- i.e. the behaviors we observe that we like or dislike, agree with or disagree with, then we have a much more accurate and manageable conflict situations.

Both parties in conflict situations CAN do things to change what they do and say, so even those "impossible personality conflicts" can be addressed, and even eliminated without either person changing personalities.


  • Rather than thinking about personality conflicts, shift your thinking to the behaviors that are problematic, yours and others, and then you'll have a chance to resolve these difficult conflicts.
  • Keep in mind too that while it seems like people act consistent with their "personalities", in fact behavior is far more affected by the context -- the actual situation. That fact, confirmed by much research in Psychology, tells us that looking at personality is a waste of time when it comes to conflict.



More On Personality And Styles As They Relate To Conflict

  • Introduction to the Firo-Element B

    By Linda Burrs - The Firo-Element B® is an inventory based on a theory designed around how people interact. Dr. Will Schutz introduced his theory of interpersonal relations (FIRO) based on the behavioral desires for inclusion, control and openness. (Openness was formerly known as affection.) The original Firo-B instrument has evolved over the years as a result of expanded research, which has strengthened the validity of the instrument. (Added: 10-Oct-2002 Hits: 1091 )
  • Personal Styles -- Time-Waster or Useful - The MBTI Shuffle

    By Robert Bacal - You can find them almost everywhere. Myers-Briggs, Enneagrams, leadership styles, learning styles, communication styles, teaching styles, conflict management styles...all designed to classify or label people so they can better understand themselves and others. More and more training vendors are using style questionnaires as a basis for training and development. The question is: are they really useful, or are they just fun exercises akin to astrology? (Added: 15-Jan-2002 Hits: 700 )
  • Type, Workplace, and Careers

    By CAPT - Once you have taken the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) instrument, and begin to better understand your individual preferences, the reasons behind past career choices (Added: 10-Oct-2002 Hits: 1474 )


MBTI (12)
Articles and research material on the MBTI (Myers-Briggs)
Personality Conflicts (11)
The term personality conflict is one of the most common terms used by regular people to discuss their difficulties with others. It's not a great phrase, because it obscures the real dynamics of conflict with other people, but since it's so popular, here's a section to help you understand personality conflicts.

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