How Knowing Your Personality Type Helps You Cope Better With Conflict - E-Mediate

How Knowing Your Personality Type Helps You Cope Better With Conflict

Many of us believe we’re allergic to conflict. What we really mean, however, is that we’re allergic to destructive conflict. Destructive conflict makes us uncertain, anxious and uncomfortable. We raise our voices and say things we don’t mean, hurting feelings and damaging relationships. No wonder we try to avoid it at all costs. Constructive conflict, on the other hand, is actually a good thing. It gives us an opportunity to verbalise our needs -and get them met – by finding the sweet spot between being too aggressive and being a complete pushover. It also gives rise to innovative solutions and helps us grow, change and upgrade. The more we embrace conflict in a positive way, the more successful in business we become.

All of which is, of course, very easy to say. What’s not as easy is actually doing it, and doing it right. How can we ensure all conflict is constructive? How do we resist defaulting to type and turning a conflict situation into a confrontation that is damaging and counter-productive?

It’s all about knowing what drives us.

The Importance Of Understanding Behavioural Motivation

Tug of war - personality conflictUnderstanding people’s behavioural motivations is critical to turning a potentially negative conflict into a positive one. This is where the Enneagram is so valuable. It explains how people with your personality type behave at their best, and at their worst – and why.

This increased level of knowledge and awareness can cause a profound shift in the way we look at our own fears and desires, and how they shape our actions. It also helps us see how we can move away from unproductive patterns of behaviour.

Once people in your team understand their own – and each other’s – personality types, they can start applying practical, proven insights and strategies to help them cope with conflict in a constructive way. This is hugely advantageous when it comes to understanding what triggers certain behaviour. Suddenly, feeling unhappy because the boss yelled at them turns into a realisation that his behaviour comes from his feeling insecure and worried about something.

Start with whyWhat Causes Conflict
In The Nine Different
Enneagram Personality Types?

Type 1: Perfectionist
Other people clash with Type 1s because they often come across as inconsiderate of other people’s feelings. They are seen as rigid, critical and Impatient, believing that following the rules leads to a fair and just solution, regardless of how others feel.

Type 2: Helper
Two’s believe that simply being “good,” and having good intentions will win the approval of everyone else. They attach huge importance to other people’s opinions of them, which can cause conflict as they can come across as very needy, worried and self-important.

Type 3: Achiever
Threes’ tendancy to be boastful, competitive and insincere often casues conflict. They love being efficient and meeting goals, but think nothing of cutting corners in order to do so.

Type 4: Creative
Fours often find themselves in conflict situations because they are prone to being temperamental, moody and self-absorbed. They tend to react over-dramatically to problems, often lapsing into hopelessness and despair.

Type 5: Specialist
Fives naturally detach themselves from the world in order to be completely objective. This often causes conflict, however, because they can appear too detached and isolated. Their need to withdraw and ponder on a problem before offering any kind of solution irritates other people. This is often why fives feel they are better off solving problems on their own. This can result in some amazing, out of the box thinking, but is equally as likely to end up in a reinvention of the wheel.

Type 6: Sceptic
Sixes cause conflict by being too pesimistic, suspicious and doubtful. They are also anxious, responding to threats with overeaction and long-winded rants.

Type 7: Visionary
Sevens get into conflict with others by being too impatient, excessive and irresponsible. In conflict situations, they often cancel commitments without regret, which hurts the affected people’s feelings. They avoid dealing with conflict by keeping frenetically busy.

Type 8: Controller
Eights are highly confrontational, so they often find themselves in conflict situations and actually revel in the “realness” of them. Naturally wilful and defiant, eights don’t have much of a filter when it comes to their impulses and emotional reactions.

Type 9: Peacemaker
Nines fnd it hard to cope with conflict because it disturbs their peace and stability, yet their tendency to be complacent, innatentive and stubborn means they often find themselves in conflict situations. Their go to method of dealing with conflict is to ignore it, believing it will take care of itself.

As you can see, each personality type has very different reasons for landing in a conflict situation, and very different ways of dealing with it. Understanding why someone behaves the way they do means you can modify your response to their behaviour. This is a great way to manage conflict construtively for the ultimate benefit of the team as a whole.

To help you see just how effective Enneagram is at defining personalities, take this shortened (Start Quiz) (but highly accurate) version of our Integrative Questionnaire. You’ll receive an analysis report telling you into which of the nine personality categories you fall, and the characteristics of that personality. Once you’ve taken the test yourself, why not share it with others in your team?
If you’d like to find out more about Enneagram, and the amazing impact it can have on your team dynamics and productivity, contact Ellen Edwards on 082 940 2486, or email her at