Do you shut down and shrink back when someone raises their voice? Or maybe you’re always the first one to pipe up and state the facts in an argument. Conflict and confrontation is rarely fun (unless you’re an egoist), but learning to navigate those tricky conversations is necessary for maintaining healthy relationships at work, home, and among friends. It’s part of being a grownup.
But each person has their own strengths and weaknesses, and knowing yours can be the key to saving a disagreement from turning into a knock-down, drag-out fight. With the right knowledge and perspective, the conflict could even—gasp—become a productive discussion.
Here’s how your Myers-Briggs personality type informs how you deal with disagreements. (If you haven’t figured your type out yet read this before you dive in.)
ISFJs will draw on their wealth of knowledge about others’ preferences and personalities, attempting to avoid conflicts before they ever start. Most people are unaware of your behind-the-scenes mediation for friends, or how you explain to your husband how reactive your teen is when she’s had a rough week. While your assistance in side-stepping conflict is admirable, shouldering too much conflict for others is stressful—and sometimes, two parties need to hash out a disagreement to find resolution. You also need to work on articulating your own feelings in arguments, which you can often forget to do trying to please others.
Your knee-jerk reaction to conflict is, “I can fix it.” And in fact, you can. You’re truly excellent at making others feel better, and always know exactly what to say. Your greatest obstacle will be challenging your own instinctual reaction to put a band-aid on someone’s feelings and come to a compromise, instead of immediately folding because you hate ruffled feathers. Work on articulating your true opinion after someone expresses a frustration with you so resentment doesn’t build up when your voice goes unheard.
ISTJs are typically pretty soft spoken, but you are prone to arguments and conflict if someone does something you feel is irrational or isn’t in line with their articulated values. Just remember that life and people are always evolving; what they’ve done in the past may not be a true indication of how they’ll act in the future, and that’s okay. You can’t always work from a model. If you disagree, work on piecing together the logic of a person’s argument. You’re always better at handling disagreements factually rather than emotionally.
ESTJs have a “my way or the highway” approach to conflict. It’s not that you don’t want to listen to others, but you are concerned with efficiency—and disagreements take time to settle. You often think there needs to be one leader who makes the call (often, you, the ESTJ!). This mentality often works when decisions need to be made very fast, but that isn’t all decisions, so be careful not to run roughshod over others’ thoughts and feelings. What’s less efficient than arguments? Employees, children, or others who don’t want to follow your lead because they don’t feel seen, heard, or appreciated.
ESFPs often deal with conflict from a very emotional place, but you typically bury your true feelings immediately when they’re hurt as a form of self-protection, only to bring up these old wounds when someone wants to hash out something entirely different. You can’t deal with the conflict at hand if you’re dealing with an unrelated conflict from the past, so it’s important to work on calmly relaying your feelings right away. Trust that those who love you will listen and understand.
ISTPs are quite great in disagreements that are logical and systematic in nature, which makes you really great at resolving work conflicts and coming to appropriate solutions. However, you’re very skeptical dealing with arguments with emotional bents—about romantic relationships, someone telling you their feelings were hurt, etc.—because you don’t trust decisions made based on emotions. While you don’t have to make personal decisions emotionally, it’s important to learn to listen and honor each person’s perspective, emotional or not.
ESTPs are very good at deflecting emotions and “fixing” conflicts in a hurry. You’re great at de-escalating a heated situation, and bring this skill into your friendships and work environment. It’s more personal, romantic conflict that trips you up the most. You truly do not like when people you love are upset and try to avoid it at all costs; you don’t even like showing when you’re upset yourself, if you think it will upset your partner. However, oftentimes, you can mistake harmony for happiness. Just because you aren’t “in a fight,” doesn’t mean your relationship is in a good place. Work on voicing your frustrations soon after you feel them; don’t let them eat away at you. Similarly, listen without trying to instantly fix when your partner expresses unmet needs. Conflict is not always a commentary on the quality of your relationship.
ISFPs are pretty easy-going and quick to follow the lead of others in working towards a goal; you’re unlikely to engage in work-related conflicts, but do often feel upset in your personal relationships. You just hate fighting. You want to feel seen without it, like you do for others. So, you bury your own hurts, allowing that pain to grow deeper and more profound. You often struggle to express yourself clearly, choosing instead to rely on actions; you’ll do anything for someone you love and care about, but will simply withdraw when you don’t feel the care you need in return. Conflict shouldn’t always be avoided; sometimes, hashing it out openly is like ripping off a band-aid. One quick sting, but it’ll be over quickly—and you’ll be on the path to healing. Work on setting aside time to get your feelings across clearly. Those who love you want to know.
ENFPs are passionate. You typically have no problem arguing for the rights of others, a cause you believe in, or a specific course of action. But while you’re the first to stand up in defense of your values, you’re often the last to stand up for yourself. You frequently shut down when someone hits a raw nerve in conflict—an insecurity, a heartbreak—and you often immediately lock out those who may actually want to talk it out. Work on letting others see your vulnerable side sometimes. You can calmly say, “This hurt, here’s why.” You often think others won’t understand or fully accept you, but you have to give them the chance.
INFPs are classically conflict-avoidant. You’re both sensitive and empathetic, trying your best to avoid hurt and avoid inflicting pain on others. Make no mistake: Your heart is your greatest strength. But you have to let others see the full extent of it, and that means speaking up for yourself. You’ll handle conflict better if you take time to consider, gather exactly what you want to say, and come back when things have cooled off. Articulate that need clearly to friends and family, and you should reach more balanced resolutions.
ENFJs are definitely mediators. You are an excellent communicator and great at resolving conflicts between others. You are also a great listener and deal well with emotions, which makes you so great at relationship-building. Your Achilles heel, however, is interpreting personal criticism as valid or not. You can sometimes get defensive, but often fail to stand up for yourself when you should, especially if someone’s argument sounds very logical. Trust your ability to analyze and come to the right conclusion when it feels like a personal indictment. It may or may not be true, but don’t internalize all the negative instantly. You are self-critical. Be critical of others, too.
INFJs do quite well in civilized disagreements or debates, but you do not like to feel like you’re inciting conflict. Ever. You’re so careful not to incite conflict, in fact, that you might just brush a lot of your concerns under the rug that you shouldn’t. You’re prone to questioning whether or not you’ve misinterpreted something, because you want to believe the best of people. You typically only argue or disagree when someone’s story doesn’t add up or you feel you’ve been treated unjustly. If your concerns are heard out, you’re all for coming up with a good solution together, or trying to understand what happened. But you often back down if someone’s argument is more emphatic than yours. Stand your ground. Your intuition on what’s worth speaking up about is usually dead on.
INTJs can seem like know-it-alls, but that’s usually just because you only air your opinions when you’ve taken time to think through why you hold a given belief. You’re strongly defensive of your POV, but you’re open to being persuaded if someone provides a more logical perspective. When it comes to emotional arguments, though, you struggle. You might get defensive with people you love, because you’re acting out of hurt instead of hearing their side. If a partner articulates their needs, for instance, try not to take it as a personal attack on your love. Instead, listen to how you can do better and think of it as a challenge; determining a plan and taking action is your strength.
INTPs are calm, collected, and analytical in arguments. You will state the facts, and what they mean to you, clearly and poignantly. Your biggest struggle is accepting emotional arguments. Since you think decisions should be made on logic alone, you often don’t want to succumb to any appeal to feelings. Just remember that some people lead with their heart, not their head. While you might not relate, everyone is strung up differently—and may even be better equipped to make decisions when it comes to interpersonal matters. When arguing a point, consider who it affects and who knows most about the repercussions there. Since you’re not always the first to empathize, notice those who passionately advocate for the human side of things—and listen to them before making a judgment call.
ENTPs are often called “the debaters.” While you would never shy away from conflict, you’re often simply stirring the pot to test ideas instead of laying out the framework of your own personally held beliefs. In fact, you find arguments tedious. Over time, though, you can start to detach from a relationship when you’re spending all of your time adapting to your friend or partner’s needs instead of stating what you’d rather see happen. Start being more true to your feelings early on in relationships. You’re actually quite diplomatic in conflict, able to balance logic and emotion as well as any type. Your relationships would benefit from engaging in a little healthy disagreement!
Not only are ENTJs the commanders of the Myers-Briggs, you’re also deeply convinced you know what’s right for a relationship, company, team or project. You want to dive in, map out the big picture and forge ahead—but often brew conflict in your wake, because you tend to seemingly ignore others’ ideas. Since you think you’re right, arguments make you impatient. But it’s crucial that you listen. As skilled as you are, occasionally, everyone has a blind spot—and not every problem has one objective best answer. You will make fewer mistakes if you listen to feedback and debate ideas everyone isn’t in agreement on, and your team will be more willing to follow if their leader is truly considerate.
Ready to kiss and make up? Here’s what your Myers-Briggs type means for your love language. And here’s how your personality type can help you determine what’s next in your career path.
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