Conflict Part 1
Conflict Part 1
When Personalities Clash
Suzanne sent in a question about conflict and personality differences in the workplace. Here is her question: How does one deal with personality conflicts between leaders and great difficulty gelling as a team as well as a lack of trust with one another?
This question really touches on two separate issues. Both issues can build or destroy trust, so learning to effectively resolve them is critical to every team and organization.
The first issue concerns personality differences and the ensuing conflict among team members. We’ll deal with this one today.
The second issue involves conflicts that naturally occur on any team, and how to effectively settle these disputes. We will look at this one in a separate Q&A post.
God’s Word is clear, all of us are “fearfully and wonderfully made” in His image. It’s also clear that we all have been entrusted with different skills and gifts, all for building up one another. Our differences go even a step further where some of us are quiet introverts who rarely speak up, and others are highly interactive and verbal. Combine those differences with environmental pressures, socio-economic challenges and unique ways we’ve been raised, and you have a perfect recipe for conflict!
So how do we deal with conflict that occurs because of personality differences? Here are 4 simple steps:
- Understand Each Other’s Personalities
People fear what they don’t understand. We are naturally inclined to view differences as a threat, hence we need to learn and understand what makes every person on the team different and unique. Tools like a Biblical DISC personality assessment can help teams break down barriers by highlighting each member’s strengths and potential weaknesses, and how each unique personality contributes to the overall success of the team.
Discovering each other’s differences, including different ways we process information, respond to conflict, communicate and even solve problems, will help teams recognize potential pitfalls and situations that can lead to a full-blown conflict.
- Learn to Appreciate Personality Differences
Knowing and understanding our differences is only half of the equation. Learning to appreciate each other’s strengths and differences is needed in order for team members to flourish and trust one another. Because we are naturally inclined to glorify our own personality type while dismissing the others, unless there is a genuine appreciation for other personality types, the conflict will continue.
Philippians 2:3 tells us to “in humility value others above yourselves.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11 says we should “encourage one another and build one another up.”
Romans 12:10 says we should “Outdo one another in showing honor.”
If even one person on the team makes a commitment to live out these truths, change will begin to occur, and others will take note and follow suit.
- Don’t Stereotype & Label
Every personality assessment tool profiles personalities and categorizes them into basic buckets. The four DISC buckets are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness.
Even though every one of us has a mix of those four, we will usually have one or two dominant traits or “styles” which make us more prone to exhibit certain behaviors. In a team environment, knowledge of the individuals’ profiles can help members better understand others in order to serve, love and empower them to reach their highest potential.
However, DISC assessment results can also be used to label and pigeonhole people. If we are not careful, we can turn a wonderful tool designed to build and restore relationships to actually damage and alienate others. Misuse can be as subtle as presuming a person with Dominance tendencies cannot be supportive or someone with Influence tendencies cannot pay attention to details.
In reality, all of us can exhibit behaviors common to any of the DISC styles, even though it may take more effort for someone who is naturally predisposed toward one behavior and not another. We should never limit people’s growth by holding them hostage to their assessment results.
- Do Not Use DISC to Excuse Behavior
There is another common mistake we make, and it’s using our personality assessment results as an excuse to behave or not behave a certain way.
- You may hear someone with a high I profile (which generally tends to struggle with details) use the assessment as an excuse not to pay attention to details.
- You may hear a high S person (someone who may struggle with voicing opinions or taking a firm stand) use their assessment as an excuse to never speak up or make their view or opinion known.
- You may hear a high D person (someone who may struggle with being too vocal and opinionated) use their profile as an excuse not to listen to others and patiently hear opposing points of view.
- You may hear a high C individual (someone who may struggle with paralysis of analysis) use their profile to hijack progress and productivity in the name of not having enough details or data, or in the name of “excellence.”
In reality, personality assessments help identify tendencies, but should not become an excuse for our behavior.
Every team will encounter personality clashes. If we are committed to understanding and appreciating one another, if we can find joy (and even some humor) in the differences instead of being constantly bothered by them and if we simply follow God’s Word about esteeming one another above ourselves, we will rise above the differences!
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