Strategic Innovation & Marketing ACCELERATORS

How to Deal Better with Conflicts at Work

How to Deal Better with Conflicts at Work

Picture all the people at work with whom you regularly come into contact. If you’re like most people, your colleagues fall into one of four categories: Cool, okay, at times irritating, or really annoying. Now, what if you had a tool to better understand the dynamics behind conflicts at work, learn ways to handle them, and discover why the people who trouble you most should be your best friends?

Background: How TIPS links to conflict at work

TIPS is a new cognitive profiling tool that I’ve created for my innovation company Thinkergy. The method uses four home bases (theories, ideas, people, systems) and four styles (thinking, working, interacting, and living) to profile people into 11 innovator types.

I created TIPS to point individuals and companies towards how everyone can contribute to a firm’s innovation efforts. However, the method has also many business applications, such as: pointing people towards a career environment that suits their talents; composing and aligning effective work teams; managing people according to their preferred styles; and others.

TIPS can also help explain why some people clash at work. Such conflicts are grounded in different fundamental value orientations and cognitive styles. TIPS’ four bases and four styles can help us understand the situational dynamics that trigger work conflicts.

How TIPS helps understand the conflict dynamics at work

Let’s explore the conflict dynamics at work between the four TIPS bases, and how they relate to each of the four TIPS styles. Visualize a grid containing two rows and two squares each. Clockwise from top left, they read T-I-P-S:

  • Your “cool” colleagues tend to belong to the same TIPS base, as they share your core values: theories, theses and truth at the T-base; ideas, inspiration and innovation at the I-base; people, partnership and party at the P-base; or systems, structure and status at the S-base. They also prefer the same styles of thinking, working, interacting and living. So when people are essentially alike, they tend to like and respect each other, and the conflict potential here is “no” to “very low”.
  • Your “okay” colleagues belong to the base that vertically connects to yours (T vs. S and I vs. P). They occasionally disagree with you because they prefer a different work style (brain vs. brawn), which influences what kind of work we enjoy and how we prefer to schedule a work day. “Brainy” T- and I-workers love to think their way through conceptual projects that they work on in longer time blocks of 3-4 hours. In contrast, “brawny” S and P-workers enjoy laboring through a To Do list full of short-term tasks scheduled in much shorter intervals of 15-30 minutes. In roughly one in four work situations (often related to scheduling meetings or agreeing on completion times), these work style differences lead to frictions with people who are otherwise “okay”.
  • Your “irritating” colleagues belong to the TIPS bases that are horizontally opposite of yours (T vs. I and S vs. P). Here, arguments occur because your preferred thinking styles differ (figure vs. fantasy). For example, T-people logically deduce the one right solution by following a sequential flow, while I-people synthesize many solutions by connecting the dots between concepts in a more freewheeling style. When looking at each other’s solution, T-thinkers say I-thinkers have no proof to substantiate their solution logically; I-thinkers counter that the scientific approach of the T-thinkers is too slow, linear, and narrow in possible solutions. Such cognitive differences between Figure and Fantasy thinkers lead to disputes in every other work situation.
  • Your “really annoying” colleagues belong to a home base that is diagonally across your own one (T vs. P and S vs. I). Here, we can expect clashes in ca. three out of four work situations, as both thinking and work styles differ. Moreover, they also differ from you in either preferred interaction style or lifestyle:
    • Because of substantial differences in interaction styles (fact vs. feeling), expect frequent annoyances or hurt feelings when T- and P-people cross paths. Why? T-people make a case and decide based on facts and hard evidence. They argue in a direct, logical and often blunt way that offends sensitive P-people, who consider the feelings of others and are more emotional. On the other hand, “touchy-feely” P-people may annoy more aloof T people by invading their space and —heaven help— even engaging in physical contact.
    • A second major conflict zone runs across the S- and I-bases, given the differences in preferred lifestyle (form vs. flow). Highly dynamic I-people love to take risks, drive change and shake things up. This infuriates S-people, who greatly dislike anyone upsetting the status quote by “rocking the boat”, proposing to “fix something that ain’t broke”, or even proposing a crazy idea of a revolutionary new product. S-people want to preserve the status quo and cherish trusted rituals and past traditions, while I people love to create a better future and radical progress. Because they prefer living in different worlds, S- and I-people are prone to clash often at work.

In conclusion, we may sum up that the conflict potential between the TIPS bases in the following likelihoods: 0% within a base; 25% between bases on the same vertical axis; 50% between bases on the same horizontal axis; and 75% between bases who are vertically across. However, please note that in all cases, the conflict potential can rise by another 25% due to occasional “clashes of egos” or “cat fights” that may break out between two individuals for reasons other than differences in their core values or preferred cognitive styles.

What can we do to moderate and mitigate conflicts at work?

So, now that you know why you get along so well with some colleagues and regularly have issues with others, how can we use these insights to reduce, moderate and mitigate conflicts? Here are four tips:

  1. Differences divide, diversity enriches. Every TIPS base and profile has it’s value and place in business. Good work performance and harmony arise from finding the right mix of talents and styles at the right time.
  2. I’m okay, you’re okay, everyone is okay. Many conflicts at work aren’t personal, but rather related to different value orientations and variations in the preferred styles of thinking, working, interacting and living. Make an effort to appreciate other points of view. Follow Stephen Covey’s advice: “First seek to understand, then to be understood.”
  3. Find moderators to bridge conflicts. Colleagues who express both TIPS bases or styles in their profile can help moderating conflicts. For example, Conceptualizers are ideal to cool an intellectual dispute between a Theorist and an Ideator because of their thinking style (figure and fantasy). Or use a Coach (located on the diagonal axis connecting the T and P bases) to moderate a conflict between a Theorist and Partner.
  4. Opposites complement. Who are your “new best friends at work” — or who should they be? Those colleagues who most annoy you. Why? Because they are strong in all those areas where you are weak; because they enjoy doing those things that you dislike doing; and because they value those aspects of business that you prefer to ignore. They cover your shadow-side, just like you light up their shadow. You balance each other’s energy to provide a Yin-Yang harmony, and like night complements day, and female complements male, so your colleagues located opposite your position on the TIPS profiling map complement you.

How does TIPS extend to all the profiles?

So far, we have only discussed the conflict potential between the four TIPS bases. How does the conflict potential break down when we look at each of the 11 TIPS profiles?

  • For the four pure TIPS profiles (Theorist, Ideator, Partner and Systematizer), we simply can adopt the indicative conflict potential likelihoods mentioned before to see how well they get along with each. For example, I am an Ideator, and I have hardly any issues with other Ideators (0%), occasional issues with Partners (25%), regular arguments with Theorists (50%), and frequent clashes with Systematizers (75%). With regards to how a pure profile relates to the other profiles, we can estimate an indicative conflict potential based on the averages of the conflict potentials between two bases.
  • For the dual TIPS profiles, the biggest conflict potential (75%) is with the profile on the opposite end of the TIPS map: Technocrats vs. Promoters, Conceptualizers vs. Organizers, and Coaches vs. Experimenters. We can also predict the conflict likelihood with other profiles by considering the differences in style and values between each profile combination.
  • But what if you profile as an All-Rounder in TIPS? Well, All-Rounders feel home on all four TIPS bases, so they get along great with each other and well with everyone else (no issues with other All-Rounders, and 25% conflict potential with all other profiles).

Would you like to learn more about TIPS? Are you interested in determining your personal TIPS innovator profile? Would you like to profile your team with our online personality test? Or maybe even learn about TIPS in an experiential 1-day training course, The TIPS Innovation Profiling Workshop? Contact us and let us know more about your needs and how we may support you.

© Dr. Detlef Reis 2017. 

25 comments (Add your own)

1. wrote:
My partner and I stumbled over here different page and thought I may as
well check things out. I like what I see so now i am following you.
Look forward to looking into your web page yet again.

Sun, June 2, 2019 @ 9:28 AM

2. wrote:
This is a topic that's near to my heart...
Best wishes! Where are your contact details though?

Mon, June 3, 2019 @ 9:19 PM

3. wrote:
Hi I am so happy I found your blog page, I really found you by error,
while I was looking on Google for something else, Regardless
I am here now and would just like to say thank you
for a incredible post and a all round exciting blog (I
also love the theme/design), I don’t have time to read it
all at the moment but I have saved it and also included your
RSS feeds, so when I have time I will be back to read a lot more, Please do keep
up the superb b.

Thu, June 6, 2019 @ 12:52 PM

4. wrote:
I am curious to find out what blog system you have been utilizing?
I'm experiencing some minor security problems with
my latest site and I'd like to find something more safe.

Do you have any solutions?

Tue, July 23, 2019 @ 2:10 AM

5. wrote:
I all the time used to read piece of writing in news papers but now as I am a
user of web thus from now I am using net for articles or reviews,
thanks to web.

Wed, July 31, 2019 @ 10:25 AM

6. wrote:
Hi there it's me, I am also visiting this web page on a regular basis, this site is
really good and the users are genuinely sharing good thoughts.

Tue, August 13, 2019 @ 9:24 PM

7. wrote:
Please let me know if you're looking for a article author
for your blog. You have some really good articles
and I believe I would be a good asset. If you ever want to take some of the load off, I'd absolutely love to write some articles for your blog
in exchange for a link back to mine. Please send me an email if interested.

Sun, August 18, 2019 @ 11:39 AM

8. wrote:
What i don't understood is if truth be told how you are now
not actually a lot more well-appreciated than you may be now.
You're very intelligent. You understand thus considerably relating
to this subject, produced me in my opinion consider it from so many numerous
angles. Its like women and men don't seem to be involved except
it's something to do with Woman gaga! Your own stuffs nice.

Always care for it up!

Sun, September 1, 2019 @ 1:09 PM

9. wrote:
Greetings! I've been following your site for a while now and finally got the
courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Tx!
Just wanted to tell you keep up the good work!

Sun, September 8, 2019 @ 1:35 PM

10. wrote:
If you would like to take a good deal from this paragraph
then you have to apply these techniques to your won webpage.

Tue, October 8, 2019 @ 7:25 PM

11. wrote:
What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable know-how
about unpredicted emotions.

Sun, October 13, 2019 @ 12:24 PM

12. wrote:
It's truly very difficult in this full of activity life to listen news on Television, thus I simply use internet for that purpose,
and get the hottest news.

Tue, October 29, 2019 @ 2:26 PM

13. wrote:
You ought to take part in a contest for one of the finest websites on the net.
I'm going to recommend this blog!

Sun, November 3, 2019 @ 3:01 PM

14. wrote:
i sverige danmark och amsterdam stockholm, liksom en apotek malmö, bestalla till salu
eller bästa kostnad.

Sat, November 9, 2019 @ 3:08 AM

15. wrote:
Tһere іs certainly a lot to find out about
this iѕsue.I really like all of the points you have made.

Sun, November 17, 2019 @ 10:51 PM

16. wrote:
Hi tһere,everything is going fine here and ofcourse every onee is ѕharing information, that's actuаlly good,keep up writing.

Fri, November 22, 2019 @ 12:39 PM

17. wrote:
Heʏ there, You've done ɑ fantɑtіc job. I'll certainly digg it and personally suggest to
my friends. I'm sure they will be benefited frrom this ᴡeb

Sat, November 23, 2019 @ 3:38 AM

18. wrote:
Hі there, just wanted to tell уou, I liked this artiⅽle.
It was helpful. Keep on posting!

Sat, November 23, 2019 @ 3:49 AM

19. wrote:
What's up friends, its enormous paragraph concerning cultureand entirely explained, keep it up all the time.

Thu, December 5, 2019 @ 2:03 AM

20. wrote:
Hi there, I log on to your new stuff like every week.
Your writing style is witty, keep it up!

Fri, December 20, 2019 @ 4:11 PM

21. wrote:
Hello there! This is kind of off topic but I need some
guidance from an established blog. Is it very hard to set up your
own blog? I'm not very techincal but I can figure things out pretty fast.
I'm thinking about setting up my own but I'm not sure where to start.
Do you have any tips or suggestions? Many thanks

Tue, December 31, 2019 @ 3:49 AM

22. wrote:
Very good information. Lucky me I ran across your site
by chance (stumbleupon). I've book marked it for later!

Sun, February 16, 2020 @ 10:58 PM

23. wrote:
It is not my first time to go to see this web site, i am visiting this website dailly and take fastidious facts from here

P.S. If you have a minute, would love your feedback on my new website
re-design. You can find it by searching for «royal cbd» — no sweat if you can’t.

Keep up the good work!

Mon, May 18, 2020 @ 11:38 PM

24. wrote:
Very good blog you have here but I was wondering if
you knew of any user discussion forums that cover the same topics discussed here?
I'd really love to be a part of online community where I can get suggestions from other experienced people that share the same interest.

If you have any suggestions, please let me know.

Sun, June 21, 2020 @ 11:41 PM

25. wrote:
This is really interesting, You are a very professional blogger.
I've joined your feed and look ahead to looking for more of your
fantastic post. Additionally, I have shared your site in my
social networks

Tue, July 21, 2020 @ 8:43 PM

Add a New Comment


Comment Guidelines: No HTML is allowed. Off-topic or inappropriate comments will be edited or deleted. Thanks.