The role of personality traits in conflicts

The role of personality traits in conflicts



Personality type influences how we communicate and relate to others. But this influence is only significant for conflict to the extent that it fits into certain patterns. Of course we relate differently to introverts (the self-centred) than to extroverts (the outward-centred). In one way we will relate to a choleric or a melancholic, the emotionally unstable temperament types, and in another way to a sanguine or a phlegmatic, the stable types.


Much more relevant, however, is the way in which the personality type expresses itself in collaboration with the other mental processes and structures, a relationship that has evolved according to the person's life experience and development. Some of us are flexible, charismatic and naturally succeed in having a good relationship with others, while others are difficult and frequently annoy or upset others, without necessarily intending to do so. We tend to avoid them because we don't always feel like it or have the resources to deal with them. But there are situations when we are forced to interact with them, and even to come well out of a conflict with them and maintain a good relationship after the differences have been resolved.


Brinkman and Kischner (1994) described 10 types of difficult people:


The tank - is aggressive, confrontational, always blames someone else and can't control him/herself;


The Perfidious - attacks covertly, using snide comments and sarcastic humor;


The Grenade - loudly explodes over long-finished situations that are no longer relevant to the present. Initiates attack using present items, then digresses;


The know-it-all - does not tolerate adversarial discussions and corrections. Others are to blame for everything that goes wrong;


The imaginary know-it-all - to gain people's attention and respect, often makes exaggerations and claims he/she has not verified. Knows enough about a topic to handle a conversation, then elaborates on what is known;


The Helpful - want to please others and often make promises or make commitments they will fail to keep. Although they don't feel responsible for breaking promises, they suffer when the consequences are negative. So they will offer excuses and explanations. They want to live in harmony, but tend to repeat the behavior, despite excuses and new promises that it won't happen again;


The indecisive - obsessed with the possible negative consequences of every decision, so they put it off indefinitely in the hope of magically getting a better idea;


The Taciturn - has a passive attitude and can be one of two types: the task-focused Taciturn (convinced that he cannot get others to be as attentive as he is, he withdraws and refuses to do anything else) and the person-focused Taciturn (withdraws into silence when harmony with others is endangered);


The Negativist - is the perfectionist who wants to accomplish the task without errors and, in his/her attempt to eliminate the possible errors and weaknesses of others, as well as all other negative aspects around, diminishes their hope and destroys the motivation of collaborators;


The Mourner - constantly complains about different aspects and situations in his/her life, but has no idea what he/she should change. We do not include here people who complain to relieve stress, but those who have developed a way of being this way, the one who constantly complains without seeking or accepting solutions.




NOTE: for more details on different ways to interact with these types of difficult people you can consult the book "Interpersonal Conflict" by Ana Stoica-Constantin.

Updated on 11/16/22, 12:09 PM