Personality Type in Conflict

by Oct 5, 2020

Personality Type in Conflict

After 30 years of studying personality type in relation to conflict, Damian Killen & Danica Murphy have developed a model instrumental in identifying how a person’s personality type influences their behavior during conflict.  I have outlined them in bullet points for quick reference.

Their theory is that a person’s conflict behavior is tied to the last two letters in their MBTI type code and how they interact with each other. These last two letters in the code are our decision making preference (Thinking or Feeling) and our preference to how we deal with our outside world (Judging or Perceiving). A better understanding of this can help to more effectively navigate through conflict. This can be most effective when one considers the type of others and asks themselves, “What can I do for others?”, rather than, “What can others do for me?”


T-F Dichotomy: Where we focus in conflict
This is the function that determines how we make decisions, which can influence where we place our attention during conflict.

Those with a preference for Thinking tend to focus most strongly 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 strongly on:
* Who is involved
* Needs and values
* Accepting and appreciating differences
* Ensuring give and take

J-P Dichotomy: How we respond to conflict
This is how we prefer to deal with our outer world and approach goals which can influence our response to situations of 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

Conflict Pair Type
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

This can be most effective when one considers the type of others and asks
themselves, “What can I do for others?”, rather than, “What can others do for me?”

TJ Conflict Pair Summary

Likely cause of conflict Challenges to/of authority Challenges to/of trust Challenges to/of beliefs Challenges to/of values
Desired outcome Closure or resolution Defined process or progression Intact relationships Respectful listening
Deals with emotions by Denying they exist Excluding them Including them Accepting them
Others’ impression Detached or aggressive adversary Catalyst of or contributor to conflict Seeker of communication and harmony There is open exploration
Satisfied when Conflict is over They can subsequently analyze the outcome There is no lingering bitterness There is open exploration
Killen, Damian. and Murphy, Danica (2003).Introduction to Type Series: Introduction to Type & Conflict. Mountain View, CA, CPP, Inc.

To learn more about Personality Types and their functions,
register for a  Personality Type workshop 

About the author

Michele Burch Reid, MS, founder of LCI,  is an Organizational Effectiveness & Personal Development Consultant and Coach. Michele has a master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, as well as several certifications.  She helps clients create overall satisfaction & potential by tapping into their natural strengths with Personality Type, Emotional Intelligence Training, Biofeedback & other Brain-based tools. Michele’s philosophy is that when you discover what inspires you, you can more easily inspire and lead others. Whether that is in the board room, the classroom, or the family room.

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