Personality and Conflict Managing Style

According to the most recent data from the American Institute of Stress, 41 percent of those surveyed said that their workplace stress stems from being overworked. You might not be surprised by this, considering how most industries are short-staffed these days.

However, you might be surprised by the second-leading cause of workplace stress. Of those surveyed, 32 percent cite “people issues” as causing work-related stress and anxiety.

Why do our coworkers stress us out? One of the reasons may be our personality types. In fact, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) denotes sixteen main personality types, including adventurers, inspectors and masterminds (among others). Each of those diverse personality types handles conflict differently. A lack of understanding of how different personalities handle conflict can cause frustration in the workplace.

Would you like to reduce workplace stress caused by “people issues”? One way to improve workplace stress is to better understand personality and conflict management styles. We’re going to break this down into these five styles:

  • Accommodator
  • Avoider
  • Collaborator
  • Competitor
  • Compromiser

Five Main Conflict Management Styles

Even though researchers have divided conflict management styles into five categories, no person fits perfectly in one category. But generally speaking, here are the different ways people deal with workplace issues.

Let’s discover the pros and cons of each style and when they can be beneficial. We’ll also share some resources to help you learn how to implement this knowledge in your workplace.


Accommodator Style

Characteristics of an Accommodator: Accommodators may be less assertive and highly cooperative. They tend to avoid conflict and have a strong desire to be liked by others.

When to Use This Style: Use this style when the other person is an expert on the topic or when preserving the relationship is crucial.

Caution: If not careful, this strategy can lead to undesirable consequences. For instance, Accommodators may be perceived as not standing their ground. As a result, they may be taken advantage of at times. In addition, an Accommodator may know the right solution; however, they may back down and let someone else make a less effective choice – to the disadvantage of the organization.

Tips to Manage Conflict with an Accommodator:

  • Take a little extra time and reflect upon the situation.
  • Remain objective and consider talking with a third party to gain a better perspective to ensure you are not taking advantage of the situation.

Avoider Style

Characteristics of an Avoider: Avoiders tends to be unassertive and uncooperative. When individuals use this strategy, they tend to give up personal goals to avoid conflict.

When to Use This Style: Use when the disruption outweighs the benefits of winning and when the relationship must be maintained, or when you have no chance of winning and the issue is trivial or too costly.  Also, use this strategy when the conflict is growing out of control and the parties need time apart.

Caution: A significant shortcoming of this style is that the conflict almost always remains unresolved.

Tips to Manage Conflict with an Avoider:

  • Use “I” language; state your concern, feeling and needs (i.e., I am concerned, I feel, I need…).
  • Be aware of your tone of voice and avoid blame.
  • Know when to walk away.

Collaborator Style

Characteristics of a Collaborator: Collaborators are both goal- and relationship-oriented.  This allows both sides of the conflict to receive what they need and leave the conflict feeling content.

When to Use This Style: Use when the relationship has high levels of trust and when the conflict itself is a problem.

Caution: This style can take time and effort, requires high levels of creativity and can stifle innovation.

Tips to Manage Conflict with a Collaborator:

  • Have an open discussion about issues or needs.
  • Listen to their ideas and contributions.

Competitor Style

Characteristics of a Competitor: The Competitor tends to be highly assertive and uncooperative. Competitors value individual goals over relationships. Individuals that prefer this style tend to be commanding, intimidating and have a need to win.

When to Use This Style: This style works well in emergencies and when there’s no time for debate. It may also be necessary when principles are at stake or when weak parties must be protected from stronger ones.

Caution: The advantages of this style are speedy decision-making and decisiveness when quick decisions need made or when implementing strategic changes. However, the disadvantage includes a strain on relationships. This may cause significant unvoiced concerns which lead to hostility or resentment.

Tips to Manage Conflict with a Competitor:

  • Give them a chance to explain their position.
  • Acknowledge points of agreement.
  • Request that they listen to the position of others.

Compromiser Style

Characteristics of a Compromiser: The Compromiser is assertive and highly cooperative. This style tends to be more concerned with the collective goal rather than their own goal.

When to Use This Style: Use this style to help eradicate conflict and sustain relationships. It can also expedite a resolution and promote a culture of acceptance. The best times to use this style are when a win-win outcome is not possible, the conflict is trivial, there are time constraints or you are dealing with a trusted individual. If finding a solution is better than having a stalemate, it might be time to compromise.

Caution: The Compromiser may come off as passive-aggressive which can lead to arguments with the Competitive conflict management style.

Tips to Manage Conflict with a Compromiser:

  • Explore all outcomes of a dispute.
  • Avoid becoming defensive.

As you read these conflict resolution styles, it is normal to recognize yourself in several categories. You may see yourself as a Collaborator on some occasions, and a Competitor on others. How you act or react may depend on who is involved in the conflict and how much is on the line. Your experience, background and personality type also play a role.

Knowing the differences among the five main conflict management strategies and learning when to use each one is key.

Conflict Resolution Examples

After learning about the different styles, you may think that one conflict resolution style is better than the others. However, all the styles have their time and place.

For example, if a person uses a collaborative strategy to resolve a problem, both parties may walk away happy. However, that doesn’t mean an alternate option would not have worked for the situation.

Or a company owner may listen to the opinions of others. In the end, the decision is their own choice because they have the most at stake. If this describes your situation, it might be helpful to learn how others perceive this conflict management style.

Finally, there may be times when a decision needs to be made quickly, but the decision-makers are squabbling over what is right. At that point, someone may need to make a decision – even if it is unpopular – to resolve the matter.

How Do You Use This Information?

Armed with the knowledge of personality types and conflict management styles, you can learn how to overcome disruptive workstyle differences. This skill is imperative for a manager and is a helpful tool for anyone who must work with people.

Are you ready to dedicate some time to learn how to reduce your workplace stress caused by people issues? We can help!

How Pryor Learning Can Help You Reduce Workplace Stress

One of the goals of Pryor Learning is to help workers feel more confident and successful in the workplace. That’s why we offer courses about personality types and conflict management.

Consider enrolling in “How to Handle Emotionally Charged Situations in the Workplace.” In this training, you learn how to face confrontation head-on and transform competition into cooperation. This is the perfect class to help repair damaged relationships.

Or maybe you could benefit from learning how to deal with difficult people. Learn the strategies for working with know-it-alls, dictators and gripers.

Does conflict make you uncomfortable and you tend to avoid it? If so, you might benefit from confronting workplace conflict and feel more confident in coming to a solution even if the situation seems impossible.

You can pick your friends, but you can’t choose your coworkers. Learn how to break down communication barriers and cooperate with all types of personalities – even those who drive you crazy from time to time. Overcoming disruptive workstyle differences may be imperative if you wish to succeed at your job.

Remember, you’re working with others who also feel stressed and they may be dealing with a conflict situation with their spouse, experiencing financial worries, dealing with troubled children, in addition to feeling overworked. It’s no wonder that your workplace may feel tense at times. Learn how to anticipate conflict and minimize tension so that you can thrive under pressure at work.

Pryor Learning has helped millions of learners achieve meaningful and lasting success in the workplace throughout the last five decades. While many of the available coursework trains individuals in Microsoft Excel, QuickBooks or OSHA workplace safety, we also offer classes that make it easier to deal with workplace conflicts, which occur in every industry.

Let Pryor Learning help reduce your workplace stress by enrolling in one of our conflict management courses today.