Conflict Resolution and Personality Types
Conflict is an unavoidable part of the human experience because humans interact daily with people with different ideas and points of view. The dynamic nature of life dictates that human beings are continuously being pulled into environments that have parallel traits and beliefs. The alterations are the primary cause of conflict, and because human beings are inherently social, conflict cannot be avoided in any scenario (Abdullah, 2016). Conflict indicates that the learning process is taking place because different points of view are being passed along. Thus, conflict is good for the development of any society, especially if society has a particular aim it is trying to reach. On the other hand, conflict can be destructive because it impedes development since folks have to drop everything and solve the dispute before the development process can go on. The resolution process is important because it dictates when the group of people will get back to normal and continue the development process.
Conflict always present motives backed by personal interests and wants. Thus, personality plays a vital role in forming conflict, and eventually, the conflict resolution process. To solve conflicts, it is imperative that one knows the other party’s personality, so that it can be resolved amicably. A person’s Nature has a direct effect on the way a person answers the conflict with some people facing the problem head on, and some avoiding the problem altogether. The Big Five Personality Types are often used to identify personality types, and they are used to determine the conflict resolution type to be used for particular scenarios and individuals.
Personality can be defined as a person’s behaviour about their, thought process, and attitude (Ayachit, 2014). Ideally, the character is developed when someone is young, and it is hard to change someone’s personality when they are older. The best thing one can do is to learn how to live with people of all personalities. Differences in personalities, thinking style, are factors that can easily because conflict is a group of people. Reason being, the thought process of different people is not the same, and that is enough grounds for conflict to occur. Social interactions lead to relationships, and for relationships to work, different ideas must be involved. These different ideas are the cause of conflict, and if the people involved have personalities that influence poor behaviour, then the dispute will not be resolved. An unresolved conflict would lead to bad blood between the members, especially if some of them had personalities that influenced good behaviour.
- How do different personalities affect the conflict resolution process?
A study by Fui (2015) aimed to find out the effect personality had on team conflict. The study found out that there is a relationship between character and conflict in a team. Notably, neurotic people were found to give a positive connection with task conflict, while other types of nature had a positive relationship, but it was not significant. In any team, there will be conflict, because it is different people with different ideas working together. Thus, the conflict resolution style should consider the personalities, so that they can be resolved amicably.
People learn how to manage conflicts from their parents, or guardians. They observe the way their seniors solve the conflict and emulate them as they grow older and become independent (Virga et al., 2014). Therefore, some people end up with good conflict management styles, while some people end up with poor conflict management styles. The value people place on different things dictates how they deal with conflict. The value one places on an object are different from the value another will place on the same object. Thus, in part, a person’s conflict resolution style is dependent on what they see their parents put a value on, and how they solve issues.
Personality has a significant influence on the way people resolve conflicts. Some folks are confrontational- they face their problems head-on and in the open. On the other hand, some people avoid problems and do not feel comfortable confronting other people (Ayub, 2017). Such people bottle up emotions, and once in a while, the feelings become too much, and they have significant breakdowns. At the workplace, sentiment can be both good and bad. It is good when it is constrained within the tolerable limits. Conflict ensures productivity and healthy competition. It becomes dysfunctional when the acceptable limits are passed, and people cannot deal with the dispute amicably. A conflict that has not been solved can result in stress, anxiety and poor, satisfactory rates in any team. Ideally, some personalities develop relationships, while some destroy relationships.
Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann formulated five methods of dealing with conflict. The primary argument in their model was that people often have one way of conflict resolution, and it is often related to a personality. The Thomas- Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument has five styles that are defined as competitive, cooperative, accommodating, collaborative and avoiding (Ayachit, 2014). Competitive conflict resolution style is for people who are very assertive and are very knowledgeable in what they want. They are selfish too, because they go after what they want, without a care in the world for other people. They are vocal about their needs, and often, they operate from a place of power. This conflict resolution style is best when a decision has to be made on short notice, and there is no time for deliberation. However, it is not good for the team dynamic in the long run, because it bruises egos, has reduced satisfactory rates and cannot work when in a situation where there are many competitive people. Secondly, there is avoiding resolution style whereby folks stay away from conflict entirely. Such people are not firm in their decisions and rarely cooperate. Such a person is wary not to hurt other people’s feelings, and it is best when someone else is in a better position to solve the problem. It is also the best conflict resolution style when there is no best way to solve the problem at hand. People who solve problems using this style will postpone addressing the issue until it is too late. This conflict resolution style is not the best, because it does not solve problems. It is a weak approach that has the potential to lead to more conflicts when not handled early. The collaborative approach is whereby a person aims to meet the needs of everyone.
As such, such people are firm in their decision-making process. Unlike a competitor, other people’s point of views are acknowledged and listened to, and their positions are taken into consideration. It is the best conflict resolution style when different ideas are needed, or the decision affects a whole group. Often, creative solutions are arrived at, because of the contribution of many people. Accommodating style of conflict resolution is similar to collaborative but that the level of assertiveness is lower. In this style, the needs of others are met first, and the person can trade of their needs without a second thought to accommodate other people. This style is the best when an issue affects the other person more than it affects the accommodator. However, this style is often referred to as weak, because it requires a high level of reciprocity, and some people might not return the favour. That leaves room for more conflict and resentment to arise. The compromising conflict resolution style is whereby folks aim to find an answer that will favour every person, or at least partially. Often, people walk away from a decision-making process unsatisfied, but at least everyone acquired something from the resolution. This method is best when the conflict is vital to everyone, and no one is willing to lose. It often comes in handy when people of equal strengths meet, and the option of losing ground is not a possibility. It means that everyone has to sacrifice some of their needs, to accommodate other people. It is the best conflict resolution style for big organizations when making decisions that affect most of the workers.
David Antonioni (1998) looked into the effects of personality and conflict resolution styles. Ideally, Conscientious, agreeable and open people take care of disagreements in a positive way. People with the personality mentioned above style rarely used avoidance as a way to solve conflicts, but find ways to confront the problem head-on. People can either respond assertively, aggressively of passively to conflict (Ayachit, 2014). Assertive people often aim to make permanent solutions, and it promotes open dialogue and discussion for both parties who are faced with the clash. Aggressive people often bully others to submission. It works for the short term when an important decision has to be made, and there is no time for deliberation. However, aggressive people build resentment from other people, because of the low levels of satisfaction. Passive people are submissive because they avoid conflict whenever they can. Thus, the possibility of the conflict escalating to levels where it is controversial is typical for such people. Often, people who respond to conflict this way talk to their peers about their dissatisfaction, in a bid to influence the decision-making process. However, they might never face the source of the conflict directly to address the issue.
- Different personality types influence the conflict resolution process differently.
The Rationale of the Study
The study aims to find out how different personality types affect the conflict resolution process. Thus, it will help team leaders and management teams are aware of how to solve conflict within their organizations. Other studies have looked into personality types, and conflict resolution strategies, but have not combined the two, yet they go hand in hand. Therefore, there is a research gap in finding out the way different personalities opt to solve a conflict, and why they choose the conflict resolution process, they opt for. This study will provide findings that will indicate how the different personality types solve disputes, and if the situation changes when they are in different scenarios.
The study will assume a quantitative model.
The study participants will be accrued from a local service company because occupations in the service industry require a lot of human interaction. The sample size will be 50 participants, and they will be chosen at random. Thus, age, gender, and the race will all be left to chance. The participants must be over eighteen years and have worked at the company for more than six months.
For this study, both primary and secondary data will be used. Researchers will collect primary data, while secondary data will be accrued from online databases and print media.
Tools for Data Collection
- The Thomas and Kilmann (1974) instrument will be used. It has five conflict-handling styles. Moreover, it has 30 styles and two selections. Partakers will be required to indicate a choice that represents their behaviour.
- Questionnaires: the questionnaire will have questions to test the conflict resolutions the people will use in different situations. A liker scale will be used to identify how strongly one agrees with a particular conflict resolution strategy.
The participants will be contacted at the beginning of the study, and those that meet the inclusion criteria will be given informed consent to sign. Research assistants will then collect data from the study participants, by giving them questionnaires to fill. Quantitative data will be collected from online databases and print media. For online databases, a correlational analysis will be done on the articles found so that only those that have data on personality types and conflict resolution are used. If the findings prove the hypothesis right, then it will determine that personality types affect conflict resolution in organizations.
Quantitative data were analyzed using numerous statistical methods. Frequency distribution was used to analyze the data. Regression analysis and correlation analysis was also used to analyze the data. The tool that will be used to perform the study is SPSS version 15.
Extroversion would score highly with a correlation of about -270 and lowly with accommodating with a correlation of -429. Openness would correlate -290 with collaborating but score lowly with avoiding, at -170. This goes on to prove the hypothesis that personality type does affect the conflict resolution type of people.
Extraverted people will score highly in the collaborating style of conflict resolution, and score lowly n accommodating and compromising style of conflict resolution style. People who are open will score lowly ion avoidance, and score highly in the collaborative style. Moreover, agreeable folks will score lowly on competition style and highly in accommodating style. Conscientious people will score highly in the collaborative form and lowly in avoiding and compromising. Lastly, neurotic individuals will score lowly in collaborative and compromise but score highly in accommodative style.
The findings indicate that personality is directly related to conflict resolution strategies, to suggest that in any setting the characters have to be acknowledged, for conflict to be solved amicably.
Strengths and Limitations of the Research
The study chose a sample size from an industry that involves a lot of human interaction, to mean that the results are valid. On the other hand, the sample size was too small, and might not be representative of the whole population.
Directions for Future Research
Future research should examine if personalities are static or people modify them to fit the situation. This would shed light on the theory that people often have more than one character.
Abdullah, N. A. (2016). Understanding the association between personality and conflict management style of counselors in Selangor. International Journal of Business and Social Science, 137-145.
Ayachit, D. (2014). Exploring the relationship between personality and conflict resolution style of future managers. Journal of General Management Research, 65-76.
Ayub, N. (2017). Personality traits and conflict management styles in predicting job performance and conflict. International Journal of Conflict Management, 671-94.
Fui, L. D. (2015). The relationship between personality and team conflict. International Journal of Accounting and Business Management , 39-49.
Virga et al. (2014). Personality, relationship conflict, and teamwork-related mental models. PLOS ONE, https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0110223.