How to Get Your Employees to Stop Bickering

Conflicting Personality Styles Could be the Cause of Workplace Strife

Managers, Not Babysitters

Research shows that 60-80% of trouble in the workplace is due to strained relationships among employees, not from issues with their skills or motivation. Not surprisingly, as a result, typical managers spend 25-40% of their time dealing with conflicts.

No one wants to work in such a contentious environment. But is it possible to change this situation? Yes, when you recognize that many conflicts are due to personality style differences and can be minimized with just a bit of awareness and effort. See which of these camps you and your employees fall into, and then use this knowledge to help mitigate conflict.

1. Direct Style

Direct style employees like to address conflict head-on. They value honesty, but not tact. In fact, of all the styles, they are most likely to become argumentative and impatient, interrupting and raising the intensity of their voices if they feel they aren’t being heard.

To deal effectively with someone with a Direct style, refrain from fighting fire with fire—you will just escalate the situation. Match the intensity, but not the anger. Be candid and make it clear why you’re upset, but stick to the facts (rather than name-calling) and focus on actions and results.

2. Spirited Style

Spirited style employees also are not afraid to engage in conflict, and they don’t hesitate to share their feelings. They may even monopolize the conversation and become overly dramatic.

When dealing with a Spirited style person, you may feel overwhelmed or manipulated by their emotions (if you aren’t a Spirited style yourself). To deal effectively with a Spirited style, avoid letting their persuasive skills dominate your thinking. Review the pros and cons of their proposed solution before deciding or agreeing to it. In particular, look at the potential unintended consequences of the solution you’re considering because the Spirited style tends to jump to conclusions without thinking through options.

3. Considerate Style

Considerate style personalities usually try to avoid conflict at all costs. They are likely to give in rather than face what they consider an unpleasant confrontation. While they are concerned with other people’s feelings or opinions, they are unwilling to reveal their own opinions—leading others to believe the Considerate person is weak or uninterested.

To deal effectively with a Considerate person in a conflict, emphasize your desire to maintain a good relationship. Show how resolution will be achieve more quickly by focusing on the issue directly rather than avoiding it. Allow time for the Considerate person to work through their cautious nature to reach a solution that they feel comfortable with.

4. Systemic Style

Systemic style types are likely to become entrenched in their position when there is a conflict. They will stick to the facts and may get uncomfortable with other people’s emotions. Other may perceive them as rigid, insensitive, and unwilling to compromise.

To deal effectively with a Systematic style, avoid getting impatient or reacting too emotionally. Use facts to support your proposed solution, rather than an emotional appeal. Don’t insist on immediate resolution in order to give them time to process the situation.

Once you realize that many conflicts are simply due to style differences, you can adjust your behavior to minimize their negative reactions and keep the conflict resolution process running smoothly.


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