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    Sep 06, 2017    |   Psychometrics

Can’t We All Just Get Along? Exploring Type and Conflict


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 “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
  • 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 between 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.

hand-shake-3Try these Conflict Mindfulness tips:
1) Realize your way of seeing and reacting to conflict is not the same as the other individual, and all reactions are valid.

2) Try to shift your focus from “What can others do for me” to “What can I do for others.” This will make you proactive, and effective conflict resolution is more likely.

  • F Preferences: Try to depersonalize the conflict – it’s not about character, it’s about communication!
  • T Preferences: Try to remember that values may be at stake and tread lightly.
  • J Preferences: Don’t try to charge ahead through the conflict for the sake of resolution. See ‘sorting it out’ as part of the process and progress unto itself.
  • P Preferences: Make sure the ‘input’ you seek is coming from the appropriate others – avoid analysis paralysis and too many hands in the pot.

3) Remember that ‘conflict selflessness’ is a universal tip: regardless of our type preferences, we should always seek to understand and accommodate whenever possible – especially on teams. The ideal outcome: a cooperative, more trusting and cohesive team… even in the midst of inevitable disagreement.

Filed under: Type Talk