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.


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