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    Aug 16, 2016    |   Aidan Millar

Using Type to Navigate Conflict: It’s not just about Me

After more than three decades of working with the MBTI® instrument, CPP authors Damian Killen and Danica Murphy have developed a theory to explain how our preferences impact the way we respond to conflict. In co-workers-294266_1280 (2) “Introduction to Type and Conflict”, they propose that the interplay of the last two letters of an individual’s type code is the most important in determining how someone is likely to behave when things get dicey.

There are a of couple reasons for this. Killen and Murphy believe that the dichotomy in which people have the greatest difficulty flexing to use their non-preferred function is Judging-Perceiving. Conflict caused by this tension is then accentuated when coupled with differences in the decision-making process (Thinking-Feeling) as well. By understanding the interplay of these last two preferences, we can start to navigate team conflict more effectively.

T-F Dichotomy: Where we focus in conflict
Since our T-F preferences relate to the decision making process, they often determine what our attention is focused on during conflict.

Those with a preference for Thinking focus most on:
What the conflict is about
Opinions and principles
Analyzing and tolerating differences
Maintaining a firm stance

Those with a preference for Feeling focus most on:
Who is involved
Needs and values
Accepting and appreciating differences people-silhouettes-3
Ensuring give and take

J-P Dichotomy: How we respond to conflict
The J-P preferences relate to our way of dealing with the outer world and influence our responses to conflict.
Those with a preference for Judging tend to:
Seek resolution
Focus on the past and future
Be concerned primarily with the outcome of the situation
Experience satisfaction once the conflict is over

Those with a preference for Perceiving tend to:
Seek clarification
Focus on the present
Be concerned primarily with the input of participants
Experience satisfaction once the conflict is being addressed

The interaction bpeople-desketween these different preferences leads to four conflict pair types. In conflict situations these pairs may look like:

TJ’s – decisive, planned, and organized; at times critical and blunt
TP’s – objective; searches for what is right; at times stubborn
FJ’s – warm; seeks harmony; at times wants to smother with kindness
FP’s – sensitive; attuned to people’s needs; at times worry for everyone

When in conflict, it is useful for team members to know their preferences, and understand how their type impacts not only their perception of the conflict, but their reaction to it. By first understanding our own ‘default settings’ we can start to acknowledge – and appreciate – that others may not approach conflict in the same way. The true advantage for team members comes from being mindful enough during a conflict or crisis to recognize and accommodate the needs of others.