An explanation for my excessive Helpfulness.

At last, after 16 years of working with a Conflict Preferences model, I have a workable explanation for why I always feel such an urge to be helpful when there is conflict around.  It’s not exactly an earth shattering revelation, and I kind of guessed it anyway, but my latest research has given me a new insight, and I hope it will help you.

He’s no oil painting. He’s Ralph Kilmann.

Regular readers will be familiar with the 5 Thomas-Kilmann (TKI) Conflict Preferences:  the model shows how we tend to respond when there is conflict around.  In essence, do we try and get we want, let others have what they want, try and avoid talking about it at all, try and find a Win/Win, or go for Compromise because life is too short?  It’s a learnt response, and it evolves over time.

(That, by the way, was a 15 minute explanation in 10 seconds.)

Now, here’s the thing.  I have just learnt from an excellent webinar by no less than the model’s co-author Ralph Kilmann himself, that there is a strong correlation between your Myers Briggs profile and your Thomas Kilmann profile.  It has been well validated, and for those who care, here’s the evidence.

This slide sums it up.

The MBTI and TKI correlation

Personally I find no surprises in there.  If you tend to be hard nosed when you make decisions (Thinking), no surprise that you are Competitive in conflict.  If you are Introverted, no surprise that you might shy away from open discussion when there is a tricky issue at stake.  Collaboration might well be a result of Extroversion (willingness to engage and talk about stuff), and of course a Feeler (like me) will tend to put others’ needs before their own (Accommodate), because they worry about the relationship being damaged if they are “difficult”.

When I introduce the TKI on Conflict training courses, I am often asked the question as to whether there is a link between these two well known profiles.  My Intuitive response is that it would make sense if there were:  now we know that in fact there is.  I also wonder about other links, such as whether your Social Style maps onto Myers Briggs and TKI as well.  Do Amiables tend to be Accommodators, and so on?  One day I will get round to mapping all of these profiles into one, to produce a kind of 3D version of your DNA.  One day……

So to all you Accommodators out there, who like to be liked and will roll over far too quickly in Conflict: here at least is an explanation for you.  It does explain why so many of my fellow ENFP trainers (a bunch of Feelers, of course) struggle to promote themselves actively enough, and are, we’re told, the worst self publicists and marketers in the consulting world.  We think that promoting ourselves is being pushy and competitive, and people won’t like us for it.   It’s why we are not aggressive enough on price, we are too helpful when people cancel at short notice, and we don’t have clear terms and conditions which we hold people to.  A bunch of pussies, basically.  Ah well, at least we have a better excuse for it now!

You can arrange to discover both your MBTI and TKI profiles through either  CPP in the USA or OPP in the UK.


All copyright acknowledged.


About Michael Brown Training

I'm a business skills trainer, facilitator and coach. I've been helping people to learn for 16 years, working all around the world on topics such as Negotiation, Conflict Handling, Sales, Leadership, Consulting and Personal Effectiveness. I'm an ENFP, constantly looking for new and inspiring things to do. I love my job for its variety and the stimulation I get from it, and spend most of my time seeing how far we can go with the subjects we work on in the training room. I've recently started a new venture in making video on how NOT to do things, which you can find at
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16 Responses to An explanation for my excessive Helpfulness.

  1. Pingback: Mirror Mirror on the Wall… – Lead.Learn.Live.

  2. Tracy Brown says:

    Well, I think you know me well enough to know that most wouldn’t describe me as accomodating :). I try to be collaborative because I think it works best when everyone feels included in the decision, even if their decision isn’t selected. I guess that falls into the area of organizational adoption….people have to feel heard and understood to adopt something. I can’t remember my MBTI and how it factors in but I do see lots of overlap in all of the various tools. I do think that you begin to adapt, for example I was waaaay pushier when I was responsible for training sales guys vs. when I was responsible for training customer service.


    • Thanks for sharing, Tracy. I completely agree about adapting to your environment. Most of these profiles are organic. I’ll bet my house on your having a very strong Extraversion preference, which would lend itself to Collaborating according to Kilmann. Also I think you’re a Thinker, which again is the Competitive part.


  3. Hi Michael,

    I usually come out as a Compromiser, Accommodator or Collaborator… and I am an ENFJ. Extraverted Feeling manifests itself in a desire for harmony for me and a prioritisation of what is best or motivating for people… I also like to talk things through. So I suppose this fits pretty strongly with Ralph’s theory about the EFs being on the right-hand side of the diagram!


  4. Stratos says:

    ENTP myself and although I think it is a shame I am not the first to respond to your blog, i have actually scored the least as a competing style… I am primarily collaborative and then compromiser/avoider… If we cannot work together, I will make compromises and then at the end I will ignore it as is a waste of time… Pretty logical to do that, don;t you think? ;-))) nice posting!!! liked it!!!!


  5. Mandy Green says:

    INFJ and strong accommodator / collaborator until I kick myself up and out into compete when I need to! I’ve long seen the overlaps with MBTI and have a few theories around MBTI and social styles too! Issues (as ever) come with trying to simplify a number of complex theoretical concepts down to easy bites. Interesting to see how each individual has adapted to the environment or not as the case may be. To what extent do we just “assume the position” or do we ever really change? Answers on a postcard…..


  6. Antony Goodman says:

    Not sure if this helps Mike. I am an INTP / Compromiser


    • Thanks Anthony! I’m not sure either (he didn’t mention Compromisers!) Introversion might make you fancy Avoiding, but Thinking might make you ok with being Competitive, so I guess Compromising is a half way point between those two?

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  7. Great post Michael. Hmmmmm, I’m feeling upper left. 😦


    • Thanks David. So your Thinking from INTJ maps onto the diagram. Does your Introversion mean there is a tendency to be quietly or even secretly competitive (if you don’t mind sharing!) ?


      • DK says:

        Don’t mind at all Michael. Nothing quiet or secretly competitive about my approach in professional session. I’m an attacker. (aka competitive).


      • Scary 🙂 I’ve been told it can be seen as a requirement of the job in your neck of the woods! Strong cultural encouragement to adopt that kind of style too?


      • Laughing. Yes. I’ve been told that my approach is off-kilter but it works for me. If people believe you have the best interest of the business and for them, it can work….As to cultural adoption, I’ll take the 5th.


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